Harvesters critical of Dunleavy’s Pebble agenda

Commercial fishermen who harvest salmon in Bristol Bay are reiterating their contention that Gov. Mike Dunleavy has taken a strong stance in favor of development of the Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay watershed, and that this needs to stop.

“We’ve watched Gov. Dunleavy stack the deck with Pebble employees and supporters in key positions, and Alaskans and our fishermen won’t stand for it,” said Katherine Carscallen, of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, in a statement released on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

“There are clear conflicts of interest in the governor’s choices,” she said. “A recusal of (Department of Environmental Conservation) Commissioner Jason Brune from decision-making related to Pebble and removal of Abe Williams from the Board of Fisheries are the only way to restore Alaskans faith in these processes.”

Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay voiced concerns over Dunleavy’s nomination of a Pebble employee to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. During recent committee hearings of Alaska House and Senate committees to vet Board of Fisheries nominees, testimony was nearly unanimous in opposition to Williams, the regional affairs director of the Pebble Limited Partnership, due to concerns about conflict of interest.

Nearly 3,000 Alaskans also recently emailed Dunleavy calling for him to recuse Brune, a former Pebble employee from an upcoming agency decision regarding Pebble. The Department of Environmental Conservation recently held a 30-day comment period on the state’s decision on whether to provide a “certificate of reasonable assurance” for Pebble’s major federal permit, a document required as part of the federal Clean Water Act permit. The state has until Sept. 22 to make its decision on that certificate.

“The Dunleavy administration needs to start listening,” said Melanie Brown, a veteran Bristol Bay harvester. “Pebble employees and supporters cannot be trusted to ensure our clean water remains for future generations, and Alaskans do not want them at the helm making decisions about our future.”