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After more than a year of reviews and thousands of comments from concerned Alaskan Natives, sportsmen and commercial fishermen the EPA has released their updated Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment and initiated their final round of public comment periods. Review the document HERE and submit a COMMENT before May 31st. The more specific the comment the better, the EPA wants to hear from you. This is an incredible chance to have your voice heard about our desire to conserve Alaska’s fishery.
Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery. According to a March 2013 report published by the Institute of Social and Economic Research the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery is the world’s most valuable fishery and supplies almost half of the world’s wild sockeye salmon. The Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery generates $1.5 billion in outputs or sales across the United States annually.
The Bristol Bay fishery creates more than 10,000 jobs on an annual basis compared to the maximum 1,000 jobs that the Pebble Partnership hopes to create. EPA’s scientific assessment found that without a major disaster, developing the Pebble Mine would destroy up to 90 miles of salmon streams and up to 4,300 acres of wetland salmon habitat.
Below is some draft language – please add personal comments.
Thank you for releasing the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. Your assessment clearly documents that mining the Pebble deposit will destroy up to 87 miles of salmon streams and up to 4,800 acres of wetlands that salmon depend on for survival. These impacts alone are unacceptable. The Bristol Bay salmon fishery provides employment to 14,000 full and part-time workers and is valued at $1.5 billion annually.
I write today to request that your agency act immediately under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay’s fishing jobs, our $1.5 billion dollar industry, and the people who depend on this fishery for their way of life.
In May 2010, nine federally recognized tribes, groups and individuals concerned about how large-scale mining could impact Bristol Bay fisheries formally requested that EPA use their Clean water Act authorities to prevent large scale mining in the watershed. Other tribes and stakeholders requested that EPA wait for mining permit applications to determine the potential environmental impacts of development.
In February 2011, EPA launched the Bristol Bay assessment to gain a better understanding of the watershed and the potential impacts of large-scale mining in the area. The assessment will provide a scientific and technical foundation for future decisions and help the EPA evaluate their role under the Clean Water Act. Your comments make a difference!
The EPA Study Area
What is Section 404c of the Clean Water Act?
Section 404c authorized the EPA, after public hearings and a scientific review process, to protect rivers and wetlands that are important for fish spawning and wildlife habitat. Bristol Bay is too important to risk with toxic mine waste and the Clean Water Act is one tool that allows these places to be kept pristine.
EPA hopes to finalize the assessment in 2013 after reviewing public comments, consulting and coordinating with tribes and considering input form expert peer reviewers. A separate document providing responses to all comments will accompany the final assessment when the report is released later this year.
Recent Media Coverage of the EPA Bristol Bay Draft Watershed Assessment: