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Commercial fishermen applaud EPA’s peer review process for Bristol Bay assessment; Call on President for swift action to protect fishery, jobs, and economy

Anchorage – Commercial fishermen and their allies across the country voiced support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s peer review process regarding its comprehensive, scientific assessment of Bristol Bay. The peer review report, released today, demonstrates that EPA led a fair, transparent process and the independent panelists who reviewed the assessment found that EPA’s science and conclusions are solid. 

“EPA and its independent science reviewers have concluded what commercial fishermen know – a mega mine like Pebble would have devastating impacts on our fishery, jobs and businesses,” said John Fairbanks, board member of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. “This report makes it clear that President Obama must stand up and protect this fishery’s 14,000 American jobs and the $500 million in annual revenues it generates.”

The proposed Pebble mine threatens Bristol Bay’s fisheries, clean waters and industries with a massive footprint and tailings dams that must hold up to 10 billion tons of toxic waste requiring treatment and storage forever. The EPA report found that even at its minimum size, mining the Pebble deposit would destroy up to 87 miles of salmon streams and at least 2,500 acres of salmon wetland habitat.

A panelist and fisheries expert who reviewed the EPA’s report concluded: “…Make no mistake, we cannot have both mining and productive salmon stocks in the Bristol Bay watershed...”

Commercial fishermen overwhelmingly support proactive, commonsense restrictions that allow responsible development in the region and also protect the fisheries and natural resources of Bristol Bay. The EPA and Obama Administration can protect Bristol Bay from inappropriately large mining by using its 404(c) authority under the Clean Water Act.

“People who are attacking this report aren’t criticizing the science but are trying to use any opportunity to attack the EPA,” said Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. “The agency was invited to Bristol Bay by Alaska Natives, commercial fishermen and others, and EPA is simply fulfilling its duties and responsibilities to live up to the Clean Water Act.”

The EPA’s assessment also concludes that:

  • The average annual run of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon is 37.5 million fish.
  • Evidence from other large mines show that “at least one or more accidents of failures could occur, potentially resulting in immediate, severe impacts on salmon and detrimental, long-term impacts on salmon habitat.”  

Now that its peer review report is finished, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay hopes EPA will finalize its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment soon and issue commonsense restrictions to protect Bristol Bay.

Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay
1120 Huffman Rd. | Box 208 | Anchorage, AK 99515
For more information contqact Bob Waldrop, executive director, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, bdrop@bbrsda.com; 907-223-1588

 

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