Bristol Bay organizations argue Environmental Protection Agency lawsuit should move ahead

Bristol Bay Defense Alliance participated in oral argument on March 2 in federal district court.(Photo: Bristol Bay Defense Alliance)

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Bristol Bay Defense Alliance waiting for ruling

News Release

Bristol Bay Defense Alliance

Bristol Bay organizations are awaiting a ruling to determine if their lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will move forward.

The Bristol Bay Defense Alliance participated in oral argument on March 2 in federal district court, and is now waiting for a ruling from Judge Sharon Gleason. 

The Defense Alliance is comprised of Bristol Bay Native Association, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, Bristol Bay Reserve Association and Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation. These Bristol Bay Tribal and fishing organizations are working together to protect the region from the proposed Pebble Mine, and ensure robust salmon runs for future generations. Together, they filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency in October on behalf of all those who rely on the Bristol Bay fishery. While waiting for a ruling, these organizations and their members will continue their work to protect the fishery and all it sustains. 

The lawsuit asserts the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to withdraw proposed Clean Water Act protections was arbitrary and unlawful, and runs counter to the scientific and public record. These protections were first requested by six Bristol Bay Tribes in 2010, and were quickly supported by commercial and sport fishing groups.

Bristol Bay Defense Alliance members made the following statements:

Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation CEO Norm Van Vactor: “While we await a decision, Bristol Bay fishermen are preparing for the coming Bristol Bay salmon season with another strong run forecasted by ADFG. The work to ready nets and boats for another harvest continues, and we will do everything we can to ensure there are many more seasons to come.” 

United Tribes of Bristol Bay Executive Director Alannah Hurley: “Bristol Bay’s native people have been stewards of our lands and water since time immemorial. Our resolve to protect them for future generations is steadfast, and we look forward to a decision from the judge on the protections our region has fought over a decade to secure.” 

Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association Executive Director Andy Wink: “Although we are now waiting for the judge’s ruling in this case, our primary goal is unchanged: protecting and promoting the Bristol Bay fishery. The science still supports 404 protections in Bristol Bay, and we will continue working to secure them.” 

Bristol Bay Native Association President Ralph Andersen: “Salmon are more than just food in Bristol Bay. They are our lifeblood. Regardless of the judge’s decision, we will continue working together to protect our cultures and way of life.” 

Bristol Bay Reserve Association Board Member Mike LaRussa: “Bristol Bay Reserve Association and its members look forward to seeing a judge’s ruling. In the meantime, we have a salmon season to prepare for and a fishery to protect, and will continue this work.”

Bristol Bay Native Association represents 31 Bristol Bay tribes & is the regional nonprofit tribal consortium providing social, economic, and educational opportunities to tribal members.

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.

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.

Bristol Bay Reserve Association is a non-profit corporation, which promotes the interests of its 350 members who own commercial fishing vessels and participate in the Bristol Bay commercial salmon drift fishery.

The mission of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association is to increase the value of Bristol Bay seafood products for the benefit of fishermen. The organization funds activities that promote fishery products, elevate fish quality at the point of harvest, and support resource sustainability.

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(Image: United Tribes of Bristol Bay)
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