Pebble mine project set at Alaska Bristol Bay. (Photo: Stock File/YOuTube, NRDCflix/FIS)
Fishers firmly oppose pebble mine proposal
Friday, August 19, 2011, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
The first poll of commercial fishers in Alaska's Bristol Bay region found that an overwhelming majority – 85 per cent – oppose the controversial Pebble Mine proposal.
Moreover, a near unanimous 96 per cent believe the headwaters of Bristol Bay should be protected for future generations. The poll, conducted by nonpartisan firm Craciun Research, surveyed 350 or over 10 per cent of commercial fishing permit holders who live in Alaska and outside the state, and has a margin of error of 5.2 per cent.
"Alaskan fishermen simply do not want Pebble Mine. They strongly believe we must protect Bristol Bay and its abundant wild fish," said Bob Waldrop, director of Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. "The Pebble project would threaten thousands of good-paying jobs, which are essential to the regional and state economy."
The poll also found that 77 per cent of respondents do not believe the Pebble Mine and fishing can safely co-exist.
The proposed Pebble Mine – a partnership of Anglo American and Northern Dynasty – would construct one of North America's largest open pit and underground mines at the headwaters to Bristol Bay, whose fishery supplies roughly 50 per cent of the world's annual sockeye salmon harvest.
To protect the salmon, sportsmen, Alaska tribes and commercial fishermen petitioned the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to restrict or prohibit the disposal of mine waste in Bristol Bay's pristine waters. In February 2011, EPA announced it had initiated a watershed assessment to evaluate the suitability of large-scale mining in Bristol Bay.
Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association represents nearly 2,000 small businessmen (fishers) and their 5,000 crew members who fish in Bristol Bay.
The poll was commissioned by Alaska Conservation Foundation and conducted from 21-31 May 2011.