Alaska Senator and the EPA reach same conclusion as sportfishing industry

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is pleased with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) watershed assessment which concludes that opening the massive gold and copper Pebble Mine in Alaska poses significant risks to Bristol Bay’s salmon populations. Following the EPA’s announcement Alaska Sen. Mark Begich issued his own statement in opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region.

In his statement, Begich said, “Years of scientific study has proven that the proposed Pebble Mine cannot be developed safely in the Bristol Bay watershed. As the multi-year watershed assessment details, the mine would likely threaten the largest and most lucrative salmon run in the world. Bristol Bay produces half the world’s red salmon and supports thousands of fishing jobs and way of life thousands of Alaskans. Thousands of Alaskans have weighed in on this issue and I have listened to their concerns. Pebble is not worth the risk.”

Bristol Bay supports the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery and one of the largest king salmon runs, primarily because the bay’s freshwater salmon habitat is largely untouched by development. Bristol Bay is also home to several other important recreational species, like Arctic Char, Arctic grayling, rainbow trout, lake trout, Dolly Varden, northern pike and whitefish. Collectively, recreational, commercial and subsistence activities in the Bristol Bay region contributes over $480 million in economic activity annually and supports over 14,000 jobs.

“The recreational fishing industry and our nation’s anglers depend upon clean, healthy waters and abundant fish,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson. “Mining operations in the Bristol Bay watershed pose a real and considerable threat to the fishery resources, water quality and sportfishing opportunity in the region. In addition to the inherent risks of the mining operations themselves, the Bristol Bay region is a seismically active area and this increases the risk of an unintended breach of reservoirs and other environmental containment facilities containing heavy metals, acid waters and toxic chemicals.”

Robertson further noted, “From the beginning, ASA has expressed concern about proposed mining in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. In 2011 we supported an EPA Watershed Assessment and, depending on the assessment’s results, the EPA using its authority under the Clean Water Act to withdraw Bristol Bay’s watershed area from future mining operations including disposal sites for dredging and fill. We are pleased that the assessment and Sen. Begich support our position regarding this magnificent natural resource.”

Logo courtesy American Sportfishing Association

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