Statement from Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, Feb. 22, 2013

Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay is deeply disappointed to learn that Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana is attempting to pressure the Environmental Protection Agency into halting its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. We are a bipartisan group of real Americans who work hard for a living and invest in our businesses. We need the EPA to stop foreign mining companies from ruining the fishery that our jobs depend on.  We hope the senator takes a step back and aligns himself with hard working American fishermen rather than foreign mining interests.

We take issue with the Senator’s assertion that the proposed Pebble Mine will provide “thousands” of jobs. Pebble is on record as saying they anticipate 1,000 permanent jobs for the project, which pales in comparison to the 14,000 sustainable jobs created by the Bay’s fishery and natural resources. It is our industry that has been operating responsibly and providing jobs in Bristol Bay for more than 130 years. And, our industry needs certainty, not the perpetual threat of Pebble, in order to thrive and invest and plan for the future.

We also are dismayed by Sen. Vitter’s attack on the Clean Water Act. Clearly, Congress authorized Section 404 (c) under that Act to restrict dangerous projects like the proposed Pebble Mine from fouling our most important national waters and creating adverse effects in them. The 404 (c) power was established under a Republican president and has been used by more Republican Administrations than Democratic ones. The EPA would in fact be derelict in its duties if it did not conduct a detailed and thorough assessment of this critical fishery and industry.

“Senator Vitter should instead focus on supporting Louisiana’s vital commercial fishing industry,” said Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. “His efforts to thwart the Bristol Bay watershed assessment will only serve to remove reasonable oversight of the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery, which would be unacceptable to commercial fishermen across the country.”

You can read Sen. Vitter’s letter here.