Bristol Bay fishermen launch new campaign

Harvesters begin new ad campaign to stop Pebble mine

Drift gillnetters line up in Egegik to deliver their 2020 catch of wild Alaska sockeyes to Ocean Beauty Seafoods’ tender M/V Baroness. The Bristol Bay catch was nearly 40 million fish. Photo by Shawn Dochtermann

Bristol Bay commercial fishermen have launched two new campaigns aimed at protecting the world’s largest sockeye salmon run from potential adverse impacts of mining.

At issues in this decades long controversy is whether development of a large mine abutting the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed will do harm to millions of wild salmon who of great value to commercial, sport and subsistence fishermen.

Proponents of the Pebble mine contend that their state-of-the-art mining techniques will ensure that the fish are protected as they extract huge quantities of copper, gold and molybdenum from land abutting the Bristol Bay watershed.

Katherine Carscallen, a spokesperson for Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, said she was surprised when a delay was announced in the timeline requested to provide permanent protections for Bristol Bay. She said she could think of no legal reasons why the Biden administration could not proceed on the timeline requested by mine opponents and that she I hopeful at this point that they would do so by this summer.

On Tuesday, Feb. 22, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action and Bristol Bay Action Now announced new efforts to urge the federal government, through the Environmental Protection Agency, to stop development of the Pebble prospect, in which the Pebble Limited Partnership has already invested millions of dollars. The PLP is a subsidiary of a major mining firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Bristol Bay Action Now campaign is a new 501(c4) initiative calling for finalization of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act “veto” authority to stop the mine and to establish enduring protections and investments in a sustainable future for the region through legislation.

In a joint effort with the Bristol Bay Defense Fund coalition, Bristol Bay Action Now released a new television ad as the first part of a six-figure ad buy highlighting broad support for the dual track approach to protect Bristol Bay. (youtube.com/watch?v=-50zJOl5Se4)

In conjunction with the campaign launch Bristol Bay Action Now released new poll results compiled on their behalf by Moore Information Group showing broad public support from Alaskans for Environmental Protection Agency action in Bristol Bay.

Also launched on Tuesday, Feb. 22, was Alaskans for Bristol Bay Action, which is committed to holding accountable politicians who refuse to stand with lasting protections for Bristol Bay that they say he majority of Alaskans want.

Former Alaska State Senate President Rick Halford, a long-time advocate against the mine, said “this organization is about supporting those champions who are fighting to end the threat of Pebble Mine and holding those people accountable who are ignoring Alaskans and refusing to do the right thing for the region, Indigenous Peoples, fishermen, and our economy.”