To show their support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed from mining, Alliance members New England Aquarium and FishWise submitted joint comments urging the agency to ensure that major mining activities do not occur in the watershed. New England Aquarium industry partners Ahold USA and Sea Port Products weighed in as well throughout the EPA process.
According to the EPA’s most recent report on this topic, even the smallest potential mining operation in Bristol Bay would result in numerous unacceptable consequences for the watershed. Bristol Bay is home to one of the world’s largest wild salmon populations. The proposed Pebble Mine threatens critical salmon habitats throughout the watershed that salmon – and the local fishing industry – depend on.
“The importance of a healthy salmon population to the seafood industry, including the many jobs it supports from fishermen to retailers, further reinforces the need to protect this resource,” said Meghan Jeans, director of conservation at the New England Aquarium.
Allowing mining activity in the area could also have a negative impact on an international level. “Alaska fishery management practices are currently internationally recognized as among the best for sustainably managing wild fishery stocks. Allowing the Pebble mining activities could severely tarnish this reputation,” noted David Glaubke, director of sustainability initiatives at Sea Port Products Corporation.
The EPA has received over 600,000 comments to date. The agency will review public comments on the proposal and either withdraw or move forward with the proposed determination by February 4, 2015. Stay tuned for an update in early 2015.