In the coming decades, Alaska’s salmon will face many threats. Few, if any, of these threats will be as serious or lasting as climate change.
As winter snowpack across the state decreases, reduced stream-flow makes it difficult or impossible for salmon to reach their spawning grounds. Salmon also spawn in water at specific temperatures—55-64 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8-17.8 degrees Celsius)—and many of Alaska’s streams are already warming, due to climate change.
Every summer, since 2011, Alaskans have come together to the Kenai Peninsula village of Ninilchik to celebrate salmon. Salmonfest (formerly Salmonstock) is a three-day music and art festival, which places the iconic, wild Alaskan salmon at the center of attention.
For as long as there have been humans in Alaska, salmon have provided their sustenance. The Salmonfest festival follows in the footsteps of Alaska’s first-people, who also came together every summer to celebrate the abundance—to thank the salmon, to honor them, to sing songs and make art in praise of this renewable food and economic resource.
This thousands-of-years tradition cannot end with us. Together we must fight climate change, defend our way of life and do everything in our power to ensure future generations have access to salmon.
At this summer's Salmonfest, Homer artist, Mavis Muller, created an art installation, which draws attention to the climate crisis occurring here in Alaska. Mavis, along with 500 festival goers, came together with a clear message—It is time for climate justice.
More than 500 participants created the art installation titled WATERSHED MOMENT FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE.
"Together we send a strong message for healthy Alaska waterways and our wild salmon, which are the 'canary in the coalmine' alerting us to the impact of climate change on the health of our communities and entire ecosystems. We unite to address rampant climate injustice. We are shaping a fair and just climate future for generations to come. With our creativity we can inspire new possibilities and we can have fun doing it.”
Mavis Muller, lead artist. Photo John Newton