Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Commercial Fishermen disappointed by EPA announcement to push back final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment; delay hurts industry

Anchorage – Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay – a network of nearly 100 organizations that support the fishermen and industry that harvests Bristol Bay sockeye salmon – is disappointed by the EPA’s Feb. 5 announcement that it will conduct a second, duplicate review of its draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.

“As the industry most directly affected by EPA’s decision to delay, we are disheartened that the agency would drag its review out and only increase the uncertainty for fishermen and processors,” said Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Authority. “Three years ago, commercial fishermen, Alaska Native tribes and sport fishermen asked the Obama Administration to protect the world’s greatest sockeye salmon fishery and the 14,000 jobs it sustains from the threats of mega mining. We did not ask for years of study and process.”

The EPA’s draft Watershed Assessment and thorough scientific review has already been vetted by an independent panel of experts and a public comment period that produced over 230,000 comments – more than 90% of them in support of EPA’s review and findings.

“This Administration must show leadership and take action under the Clean Water Act to create reasonable, fair restrictions that protect Bristol Bay’s fishing jobs and $500 million annual industry, and provide the certainty that our businesses need to invest and plan for the future,” said Benjamin Blakey, a Bristol Bay fishing captain. “We expect the President and the EPA to stand up for Bristol Bay’s jobs, industry and economy rather than foreign corporations that want to extract our valuable minerals and leave.”