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News Release

United Tribes of Bristol Bay

Commercial Fisherman for Bristol Bay

Bristol Bay leaders called on Alaska’s Senators to stand up for Bristol Bay and stop the proposed Pebble Mine in light of recent news about the depth of the company’s deceptions and illicit support from state and federal leaders and regulators.

“We expect to be represented by our elected leadership and to date we have been failed by that leadership,” said United Tribes of Bristol Bay Executive Director Alannah Hurley during a September 23 press conference. “The Alaska senators need to address the content of these tapes, and their silence is support of Pebble Mine. We need them to show leadership for Alaska, that the behavior of this mining company is unacceptable. We need them to condemn the entirety of the content of these tapes and they need to take action now.”

Recordings recently released by the Environmental Investigation Agency revealed disturbing deceptions from Pebble and its parent company Northern Dynasty as they seek to build one of the world’s largest open pit mines at the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s fishery, directly threatening the lands and waters that sustain Bristol Bay and feed the world. The tapes show that the company has been deceitful in its work to permit the unwanted mine, portray the state and federal government as complicit in the company’s efforts, and assert that Alaska’s senators have allowed this to occur while paying lip service to their constituents.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has been providing information months in advance to the Pebble Partnership, of issues that they’re not sharing with the other cooperating agencies, which they’re required to do. Lies and collusions have been allowed to become routine, sadly, not the exception. It is really time once and for all for our state and federal officials to do the right thing and send these foreign interests and shysters packing and do what is right for the people of Bristol Bay, Alaska and our country,” said Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. CEO Norm Van Vactor.

Van Vactor added: “The sun’s up in Bristol Bay. The seasons are changing. We are hopeful. We are encouraged that some of this additional information is coming to light, it just confirms what a lot of us have known and suspected, and we are hopeful that our elected leadership will pay closer attention and really do what is right for their constituents, the people of Bristol Bay and the people of Alaska. We hope to see a new day.”

“Both senators came out yesterday and simply referenced their previous statements. To me, that’s not good enough. We are at the point where this mine may be permitted. These tapes came out and showed that these people are lying to all of us. All of us are being lied to. And I’m demanding that our Senators take action. Show the people of Alaska, show the people of Bristol Bay, if you really have concerns about Pebble Mine, then speak up and take action against Pebble,” said Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay Advisor (and longtime commercial fisherman) Robin Samuelsen.

Samuelsen added: “That’s all they talked about in those tapes, Pebble getting a ROD (record of decision). But I’ll tell you. When I was a kid and being very mischief, I got the rod. And it was on my hind end. And that’s what I’m asking Senator Sullivan and Senator Murkowski to do. Take out the rod, it’s time to spank 'em. They’ve lied to you, they’ve lied to us out in Bristol Bay, they’ve lied to Alaska and they’ve lied to the world.”

“The reality is, the Senators have many options for action. They could come out in opposition to this project. It’s very clear it will have devastating impacts on Bristol Bay, make that clear to the Trump Administration. They could work to limit funding for the permitting process through the appropriations process but what is most important is that they not sit quietly in the corner any longer,” said United Tribes of Bristol Bay Executive Director Alannah Hurley.

A recording of the press conference is available at

Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation represents 17 CDQ communities & exists to promote economic growth and opportunities for Bristol Bay residents through sustainable use of the Bering Sea fisheries.

Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay is a national coalition of fishermen working to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska and the 14,000 jobs, $500 million in annual income, and $1.5 billion in economic activity that Bristol Bay’s wild salmon provide.

United Tribes of Bristol Bay is a tribal consortium representing 15 Bristol Bay tribal governments (that represent over 80 percent of the region’s total population) working to protect the Yup’ik, Dena'ina, and Alutiiq way of life in Bristol Bay.

United Tribes of Bristol Bay + Commercial Fisherman for Bristol Bay logos