Pebble Mine News

  • Protect Bristol Bay
    Photo: Luke Strickland

    Some of you may have noticed the February 28 Washington Post article about the area where we fish in Alaska––Bristol Bay, and the Pebble Mine that threatens it. It’s great to see the EPA taking a strong stance on this issue. In a recent statement, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, “Extensive scientific study has given us ample reason to believe that the Pebble Mine would likely have significant and irreversible negative impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed and its abundant salmon fisheries.” She concluded by saying, “This process is not something the agency does very often, but Bristol Bay is an extraordinary and unique resource.”

    While everyone’s local watershed deserves protection, the wild salmon fisheries of Bristol Bay have received extra attention because of the fishery’s size and global significance. Bristol Bay is the largest sockeye salmon run on earth with almost half of all sockeye salmon worldwide. There are just under 3,000 limited entry commercial fishing permits for Bristol Bay, which covers an area of about 20,000 square miles. That’s almost double the size of D.C. and Maryland combined. Fishing Bristol Bay and its 30-50 million sockeye are almost 3,000 families feeding themselves and making a living from a 100% renewable resource. My wife, daughter and I are one such family.

    According to the WP article, the EPA is exercising its authority under the Clean Water Act to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from issuing permits for waste discharge. Although not the final word from the White House, this move will delay the Pebble Mine for months and is a major setback for the Pebble Mine project.

    Northern Dynasty Minerals, the Canadian-based firm that owns the Pebble Mine, claims the project will create 1,000 direct jobs and $180 million in state revenue. Compare those temporary jobs and that fleeting revenue with the 12,000 summer jobs in Bristol Bay and $500 million in annual income for workers and fishermen. The University of Alaska’s Institute for Social and Economic Research recently completed a study documenting the extent to which the Bristol Bay fishery effects Americans and their communities. The study states that the fishery is the most valuable and largest salmon fishery in the world with an overall economic value of $1.5 billion.

    While Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has been cheerleading for the mine, our other Senator, Mark Begich (D-Alaska) together with Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) have worked hard to stop the project. “Today, the administration is saying that potential gold mining is not more important than a $1.5 billion sockeye fishing industry,” Cantwell said. Chris Wood of Trout Unlimited put it best when he said recently, “It’s difficult to imagine a more significant conservation achievement than protecting Bristol Bay.”

    Photo: EPA

    Illustration: Ray Troll

    March 5th, 2014 | Traveler | No Comments | Tags: , , , , ,

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