June 10, 2021
John Sundstrom, Chef and Co-Owner, Lark – (206) 992-0598
Kristi Brown, Chef and Co-Owner, Communion – (206) 391-8140
Taichi Kitamura, Chef and Owner, Sushi Kappo Tamura – (206) 547-0937
Many of region’s restaurants and food industry depend on healthy and robust salmon runs
SEATTLE—Today, 81 chefs, restaurant owners and food professionals across Washington state delivered a letter to Governor Inslee and Senator Patty Murray following up on their May 14 joint statement and supporting their commitments to restore salmon runs and invest in communities and a clean and affordable energy future.
“As business owners we have had the fight of our lives to keep the doors open and provide jobs for as many of our employees as possible. There is no doubt that the challenges we have faced have been felt in the supply chain right down to the people that grow and harvest the food we cook,” said Kristi Brown, chef and owner of Communion in the Capitol Hill District of Seattle.
The Washington restaurant industry represents some of the businesses that are most impacted by COVID-19 with a total estimated loss of $10 billion for 2020. However, the health of many of the region’s restaurants and food industry depend on healthy and robust salmon runs.
“Farmers and fishermen need us as much as we need them,” Brown added. “That’s why we signed the letter thanking Governor Inslee and Senator Murray for their recent statement that recognizes the need for urgent action on salmon and the future of the Columbia River Basin. We urge them to take a comprehensive approach that addresses our region’s issues as a whole.”
The Pacific Northwest faces a set of interconnected challenges today—to recover endangered salmon populations, uphold our nation’s responsibilities to tribes and invest in our communities and essential infrastructure. Washington’s elected officials need to act quickly and lead with bold actions that address these problems. Over the past three decades, the region has spent more than $18 billion on a series of inadequate and illegal federal salmon plans while our iconic fish decline toward extinction. A new approach that protects and restores salmon is urgently needed.
Earlier this year, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson introduced a comprehensive proposal that includes restoring the lower Snake River and its endangered salmon populations. Dam removal was just one part of a much larger framework that also included major investments for irrigation, transportation and clean energy.
Decades before COVID took its toll on the restaurant industry, other stakeholders and Northwest Tribes have been impacted by the steep declines in salmon populations across the state and region.
“Conflict between salmon recovery and the energy and agricultural sectors has been an unintended consequence of dam construction in the Columbia Basin. We urgently need leadership from our elected officials to set things straight, meet community needs and revitalize the economy,” said Chef John Sundstrom of Lark in Seattle.
“Given the importance of getting people back to work, it's imperative that we advance the process of restoring salmon and create more jobs in our region,” said Chef Taichi Kitamura, owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura and avid fly fisherman. “I want to continue fishing with my family, but I certainly don’t want to catch the last fish. We encourage Governor Inslee and Senator Murray to urgently advance a big regional package to recover salmon and invest in our communities. But we need action in months, not years— while salmon still have a chance at recovery.”