FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 9, 2011

Contacts:
Bob Waldrop, Executive Director, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association
– bdrop@msn.com – (907) 770-6339
and Scott Coughlin, Fieldwork Communications
– scott@fieldworkcommunications.com – (206) 228-4141

Bristol Bay Commercial Fishermen Seek National Support to Protect Salmon and Jobs

Focus is on EPA process and a crucial federal permit needed for massive open-pit mine

Bristol Bay salmon fishermen are reaching out to commercial fishing organizations around the country, asking their support to protect Bristol Bay fishing jobs, which are under threat from the proposed Pebble Mine.

Two foreign mining companies, Northern Dynasty Minerals, Ltd. and Anglo American PLC, are proposing to build the world’s largest open pit gold and copper mine at the confluence of two major drainages (comprising the Kvichak and Nushagak river systems) that sustain the Bristol Bay fishery. The Pebble Mine, if allowed to develop, threatens a $350 million industry that supports 12,000 commercial fishing jobs every year.

The new network of commercial fishing interests, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay(CFBB), debuted a website last week that provides information about the proposed mine and the risk it poses to the Bristol Bay salmon fishery.

The website enables national fishing organizations and fishing-related businesses to join Alaskan fishing groups in signing a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), supporting EPA’s ongoing watershed assessment in Bristol Bay. The assessment is a scientific review to evaluate the potential impact of large-scale development on the region’s water quality. If the assessment concludes that there is justification for doing so, the EPA can then invoke their 404(c) authority under the Clean Water Act to deny issuance of a federal “dredge and fill” permit.

“Science has protected and helped sustainably manage the Bristol Bay commercial fishery for 130 years. We trust the scientific approach of the EPA’s watershed assessment will continue to do so,” said Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA), which represents all of the salmon driftnet fishermen in Bristol Bay and is one of the original signers of the letter.

“Still, political support is very important in order to strengthen the federal government’s desire to act, based on the science of the assessment,” continued Waldrop. “That’s why we are asking fishing organizations and fishing-related businesses from throughout the United States to take a moment, go to the Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Baywebsite, and join us in signing the EPA letter.”

Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, based in Kennebunk, Maine, is another early signatory to the letter.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with salmon fishermen on this one. Massive-scale mining in the seismically active Bristol Bay watershed poses unacceptable risk to our country’s largest and most valuable remaining wild salmon run – not to mention the fishing jobs that it supports. I would encourage every fishing organization in the country to support the EPA process and get behind CFBB.”

The new website can be found at www.FishermenForBristolBay.org.

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