Anti-Clean Water Act Legislation Threatens Bristol Bay Fishing Economy, Helps Pebble Mine

Legislation introduced by Lower-48 senators would scale back Clean Water Act provisions, jeopardize Bristol Bay salmon industry

DILLINGHAM, AK – In a move that prioritizes the Pebble Mine over the world’s largest and most valuable sockeye salmon fishery, a bill was released today to severely curtail the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) authority to protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining within the region. Released by senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and David Vitter (R-LA), the bill alters the 43-year old Clean Water Act by limiting the window when EPA can restrict a project that would have “unacceptable adverse effects” on surrounding wetlands and waterways.

“The senators from West Virginia and Louisiana have it exactly wrong. Our need for proactive Clean Water Act protections is not about taking away opportunities for industry; it’s about ensuring that 14,000 jobs and a $1.5 billion salmon industry remain in this region,” said Katherine Carscallen, a Bristol Bay fisherman and Sustainability Director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA). “Alaskans have been very clear; they do not believe that massive open-pit mines can coexist with Bristol Bay’s salmon resource. This bill undermines strong science and the thorough public process that Alaskan fishermen overwhelmingly support.”

During this summer’s 60-day public comment period on EPA’s proposed 404(c) determination, the Bristol Bay driftnet fleet – supported by the entire region and a huge majority of Alaskans – all commented in favor of protective action. In total, over 650,000 comments were written in support of the EPA’s proposed determination, with 99% in support of the proposed protections

“Senators Manchin and Vitter have never visited Bristol Bay, to my knowledge. I’d like to extend them an invitation to witness what it looks like when over 50 million sockeye salmon return, as we’re expecting this summer,” said Sue Aspelund, BBRSDA Executive Director. “Like everyone else who visits here, I think they would go home with an entirely new understanding of what clean waters and a sustainable industry can produce.”

Alaska’s senators Murkowski and Sullivan have not signed onto the Manchin-Vitter bill.

“We are encouraged that elected leaders from Alaska are not part of these efforts, and we hope they will continue to side with their constituents rather than with Pebble promoters and two outside senators,” said Carscallen.

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) represents the 1,850 commercial salmon driftnet fishermen who harvest the world’s greatest seafood – Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. Find it at and

Contact: Katherine Carscallen, Sustainability Director, BBRSDA, (907) 843-2006,