Today the U.S. EPA released its proposed determination in the Clean Water Act 404(c) process, issuing draft protections for the Bristol Bay watershed related to the proposed Pebble Mine.
DILLINGHAM, AK – As Bristol Bay’s commercial fishermen are pulling their nets for the final time at the close of another historic sockeye salmon season, on behalf of its over 1,800 drift permit holders, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) commends the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed Clean Water Act 404(c) determination, which if finalized, will restrict mining developments in Bristol Bay that would have “unacceptable adverse impacts” to the watershed and health of the fishery.
The Bristol Bay salmon fishery produces over 50% of the world’s sockeye and is the most valuable commercial salmon fishery on earth, estimated at $1.5 billion annually. After a three-year independent study, EPA has determined that if constructed, the Pebble Mine would negatively impact salmon due to its location and deposit type. “We have seen another incredible salmon run this season, which further highlights the importance of protecting Bristol Bay’s unique fisheries resources,” said Sue Aspelund, executive director of BBRSDA. “We are pleased that EPA has listened to Alaskans, and following vigorous scientific review and consistent with its authority, to see it move forward with the 404(c) process to protect the fishing industry in Bristol Bay, and adhere to the watershed standards the Clean Water Act put in place over 40 years ago for this very purpose.”
In addition to releasing its proposed determination, the EPA launched another open, public 60-day comment period in its transparent and inclusive process to oversee watershed protections. “The science is extremely clear that large-scale mining and healthy salmon habitat cannot coexist in Bristol Bay. For this reason, we hope that all Alaskans will comment, asking the EPA to see the process through and implement strong protections for salmon and those that depend on them,” said Katherine Carscallen, BBRSDA board member. “Thousands of jobs in Bristol Bay rely on a healthy fishery. We are excited to see that the EPA also recognizes the importance of this region for its salmon, culture, and economic value to Alaska, and we will continue to work to ensure the Bay remains that way for generations to come.”
The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) represents the 1,850 commercial salmon drift fishermen who harvest the world’s greatest seafood – Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. Find them at bristolbaysockeye.org and bbrsda.com.