We can look at Southeast Alaska—from the mountaintops to the open ocean—as a single, vast, highly productive watershed. Everything is tightly interconnected: the land and waters, vegetation and wildlife, resources and economies, culture.
ASFT's program, SeaBank, was created to tell the story of Southeast Alaska's ways of life. For the communities of Alaska’s Panhandle, this great natural ecosystem functions as a richly endowed bank, providing natural capital that is essential to the regional economy. SeaBank is a diverse nexus of individuals, scientists, organizations and businesses that wish to share the untold story of Southeast Alaska’s ecological wealth and promote the region’s natural products that support the livelihoods of our communities.
Unlike ordinary business enterprises, this ecosystem bank requires no human input, no equipment, and no built infrastructure of any kind, yet it produces over a billion dollars worth of fish and other sea foods every year, harvested from Southeast Alaska’s waters. The ecosystem bank is also infinitely sustainable, as long as its resources are harvested responsibly and we assure that the environment remains healthy and productive.
The goal of SeaBank is to make people aware of Southeast Alaska’s natural bank, to measure the huge annual capital that it provides, to highlight its value to the shareholders, and to help safeguard its future.
A RESOURCE HUB FOR SOUTHEAST AK'S NATURAL CAPITAL
SeaBank's website will act as an information hub: it will organize information, share research in a compelling and understandable way, and provide an outlet for locals to share their knowledge, stories, and ways of life pertaining to their relationship with the surrounding environment. Eventually, the website will aim to not only serve as an informational resource, but a marketplace for locally and sustainably sourced products.
The official SeaBank website will be launched in fall 2017!
Southeast Alaska encompasses the 17 million acre Tongass National Forest. Together with the coastal old-growth forests of British Columbia, this is the largest temperate rainforest ecosystem in the world. Semi-enclosed by land, the whole Panhandle archipelago represents a single estuarine system that ranks among the largest and most complex in the world. This nutrient rich environment is the preeminent feature of the region, supporting an abundance of animal and plant life, including one of the planet’s most prolific wild salmon ecosystems.
Southeast Alaska has more than 10,000 estuaries that flow into the bays, fjords, and channels, then coalesce to form a single overarching estuary system. For communities in the Panhandle, this literally amounts to a fish factory—one of the greatest on earth—producing over a billion dollars worth of commercial fish alone for world consumption every year.
SeaBank will organize, explain, and present information illustrating the vast economic value of this natural wealth- making policy and personal decisions that ensure its future productivity a no brainer.
Fishing is the heart of life in most Southeast Alaska towns. Kids with spinning rods crowd along the riverbanks in summer. People with skiffs of every size and description head out after salmon, halibut, rockfish, crab, and shrimp. Subsistence fishing is much more than recreation, it’s about staple foods with serious cash-equivalent value for local families.
The 55,000 residents of Southeast Alaska live in a unique congeries of villages, towns, and cities. Hugging the coastline, backed by sheer mountains, and often isolated on islands, most of these communities are accessible only by plane or ferry. The names of these fishing communities embody the diversity and character of its people: Hoonah, Angoon, Sitka, Kake, Port Alexander, Juneau, Haines, Port Protection, Petersburg, Ketchikan, Tenakee Springs, Klawock and Wrangell.
Every Panhandle community is linked to the others by the tides that flow between them, by the fish that pass their shores, and by their shared harvesting of the sea. This is the “blue economy”—the SEABANK—that underwrites and sustains Southeast Alaska’s communities and ways of life.
SeaBank will celebrate and document the cultural importance of this blue economy by sharing stories, photos, and traditional knowledge from these communities.
The eventual goal for SeaBank is to provide an online marketplace
We can look at the wealth derived from Southeast Alaska’s environment as nature’s dividend. Unlike other industries that must purchase raw materials, the cost of goods for this extraordinary enterprise is virtually zero. No amount of human ingenuity can improve on the Panhandle’s rich and reliable ecological system, nor could we design a more perfect business model.
We call this remarkable ecological and economic system SEABANK.
The economic health of Southeast Alaska is directly tied to the stability and health of our environment. To understand the economic side of this equation, SEABANK draws from research on the dollar value of marine resources harvested in the region—most importantly salmon, halibut, shellfish, and black cod. We further include the value of tourism and ecosystem services which also depend on the natural environment.