Press Release: Nation’s Commercial Fishermen Unite to Protect Bristol Bay, Alaska

webmaster  -  Mar 27, 2012  -  No Comments

For Immediate Release

March 28, 2012

Contacts:
Bob Waldrop, Executive Director, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (907) 223-1588 / bdrop@bbrsda.com
Scott Coughlin, Fieldwork Communications (206) 228-4141 / scott@fieldworkcommunications.com

Nation’s Commercial Fishermen Unite to Protect Bristol Bay, Alaska

Fishermen from across the country ask President Obama and the EPA to protect Bristol Bay and its commercial fishing jobs from mega mining

Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay announced today that 77 commercial fishing groups from Alaska to Maine have sent a letter to the EPA urging the Obama Administration to protect Bristol Bay, its epic salmon runs and the commercial fishing jobs that rely on them.

The groups include the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives, Maryland Watermen’s Association and Southern Shrimp Alliance. In all, they represent 16,000 commercial fishermen across the country and some of the country’s most valued and storied fisheries.

“Today, commercial fishermen from across America stand shoulder to shoulder in support of sound science, the most valuable wild salmon fishery on earth, and thousands of commercial fishing jobs that are threatened by development of the Pebble Mine,” said Bob Waldrop, a leader of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the fishing groups express support for the agency’s ongoing scientific watershed assessment, which is investigating potential impacts of large-scale development on Bristol Bay’s highly productive salmon streams and rivers. The groups urge the agency to use its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to block a required federal dredge-and-fill discharge permit for the proposed Pebble Mine, if the assessment finds that the bay’s natural resources would be harmed or compromised by large-scale mining. The mine is expected to produce and store over 10 billion tons of toxic waste behind earthen dams, upstream of the bay’s salmon-spawning headwaters.

“This is the first time I can remember commercial fishermen from the entire country speaking so clearly in support of a regional fishery,” said Sig Hansen, a Bering Sea crab fisherman and star of the Deadliest Catch. “We’re usually pretty independent, and focus on our own areas, but it’s clear that fishermen and consumers from across the country value Bristol Bay salmon and will not let a mega mine jeopardize it.”

The direct value of Bristol Bay’s salmon averages $350 million per year, and the commercial fishery is the economic engine of the region. Now 130 years old, the commercial fishery supports 8,000 fishing jobs, and another 4,000 processing and industry-support positions.

“Bristol Bay is a national issue,” Bob Waldrop added. “Our fishermen hail from 38 states where they spend their earnings, pay taxes and support local economies. And just one federal permit stands between our fishery and a grave threat. Anyone who suggests a huge mine can store billions of tons of toxic waste in our headwaters and not risk this fishery is substituting wishful thinking for facts.”

More than 80% of Bristol Bay area residents oppose development of the Pebble Mine, as do a majority of Alaskans.

Peter Andrew, an Alaska Native, lifelong fisherman and board member of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, said it’s a privilege to serve as a steward of the fishery. “We know that our people have been here, catching these salmon, for over 9,000 years,” Andrew said. “To think that we would dishonor them by endangering this amazing fishery in return for maybe 25 years of mining jobs is an insult.”

 

For more information about Bristol Bay and the proposed Pebble Mine, visit fishermenforbristolbay.org

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