By Christa Hoover
For The Cordova Times
This was originally published as a letter from Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association to Cordova Mayor Koplin and City Council.
A permit application is currently under review and a public comment period is open regarding oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Alaska. The Copper River and Bering River districts are valuable active commercial fishing areas for approximately 540 salmon drift gillnet fishermen.
This commercial fleet plays an integral role in the economy of Cordova.
The Copper River Prince William Sound Marketing Association is concerned with the draft Gulf of Alaska Oil and Gas Exploration Best Interest Finding, released by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil and Gas. CR/PWSMA opposes oil and gas exploration in the current area under review.
- Offshore drilling platforms within the Bering River district would impede access to rich salmon fishing areas. Loss of access will result in loss of value of the overall salmon drift gillnet harvest and in turn loss to the economy of the community of Cordova.
- Seismic testing is known to impact salmonids with detrimental effect. The eastern Copper River district, Controller Bay, Bering and Katalla Rivers all present a complex system of Coho salmon spawning and rearing habitat.
- There are no Geographic Response Strategies for Katalla and Controller Bay. The Prince William Sound Subarea Contingency Plan does not include the Copper River Delta and Flats addendum. Oil spill response and recovery within the License Area would be extremely difficult and hampered by extreme weather, remote access and tidal and current action.
At this time, CR/PWSMA supports the draft resolution submitted by Copper River Watershed Project and encourages Cordova City Council to adopt said resolution.
Christa Hoover is the executive director for the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association.