United Tribes of Bristol Bay
This week, the Bristol Bay Defense Fund launched a new six-figure television, print, digital, and mobile billboard advertisement campaign that urges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to end the threat and veto Pebble Mine now. The ads state: “The recorded salmon runs have never been larger. The chorus of Alaskans has never been louder. Return peace to Bristol Bay, veto pebble mine now.”
The ads will run in both Washington, D.C. and Alaska. Additionally, these ads coincide with a week-long celebration of Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery. Several DC-area restaurants will be participating in Bristol Bay Salmon Week by featuring Bristol Bay sockeye salmon dishes on their menus. During the same week, tribes, commercial fishermen, and conservation advocates will be flying to DC to meet with members of the Biden administration —including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to urge them to finish the job and protect Bristol Bay from the threat of Pebble Mine.
These new ads, Bristol Bay Salmon Week celebration, and an advocacy trip build on a year-long crescendo to urge the Biden administration and Environmental Protection Agency to “Finish the Job” and finalize strong 404(c) Clean Water Act protections to safeguard Bristol Bay this year.
Below are statements from tribes, advocacy groups, and commercial fishermen:
“After almost 20 years, the people of Bristol Bay continue to stand strong against the Pebble Mine. Our children should not have to live under the cloud of any version of Pebble threatening to destroy the waters that have sustained our people and ways of life for millennia. The Environmental Protection Agency’s science is clear and over four million people have weighed in with the agency supporting permanent and strong protections for our watershed. As captured in the ad campaign, there is no time to waste, and our people will continue to do whatever it takes to protect our home. The EPA must listen to the voices of the people of Bristol Bay and finalize protections this year that stop Pebble Mine for good,” said Alannah Hurley, Executive Director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay.
“NRDC is proud to join Bristol Bay tribes, commercial fishermen, and conservation groups this week in DC supporting a decades-long fight led by Alaskans to defend themselves, their communities, and their lands against destruction by a foreign mining company,” said Joel Reynolds, Western Director and Senior Attorney for NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “And make no mistake: This is a fight we must win. The will of the people has never been stronger, the salmon run in Bristol Bay has never been bigger, and the course for Environmental Protection Agency has never been clearer. Now is the time for the EPA to veto the Pebble Mine.”
“I am excited to visit Washington, DC once again to meet with members of the Biden administration and remind them of what a special place Bristol Bay is. After another record-breaking fishing season and the recent end to Environmental Protection Agency’s comment period on its proposed protections for the region, we have so much to celebrate. It is our hope that our leaders will rise to the occasion and finish the job to veto Pebble Mine before the end of the year,” said Tim Bristol, Executive Director of SalmonState.
“After years of having to fish with the threat of Pebble Mine looming over us, commercial fishermen are ready to head to Washington, DC alongside Bristol Bay tribes and other advocates to tell the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize Clean Water Act protections as soon as possible. The public support is broad, and the science is clear, it’s time to enact durable protections for Bristol Bay and ensure future generations can continue to rely on this pristine watershed just as we have for our livelihoods,” said Katherine Carscallen, Executive Director of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.
On September 6, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded its comment period on its revised Proposed Determination (PD) outlining potential protections for Bristol Bay. More than half a million people — including 31,000 Alaskans and 2,500 Bristol Bay residents — spoke out to once again resoundingly reject Pebble Mine.
In August, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game released the final daily run summary for the 2022 fishing season. An estimated 78.4 million sockeye salmon returned to the Bay and its rivers, breaking the previous record of 67.7 million sockeye salmon set in 2021. These record-breaking numbers are due to thousands of years of Indigenous stewardship and sustainable management that has kept the region unpolluted and pristine.
For two decades, tribes have led the fight to protect Bristol Bay from the threat of Pebble Mine. If fully built, Pebble Mine would produce up to 10.2 billion tons of toxic waste that would remain at the region’s headwaters forever. Bristol Bay salmon sustains the cultural and spiritual identity of the tribes in the area, provides more than 50 percent of the world’s sockeye salmon, supports an economy valued at over $2.2 billion, and employs 15,000 people in commercial fishing, and thousands more in hunting, sportfishing, outdoor recreation, and tourism.