EPA Public Comment Period generates nearly 900,000 total comments, with nearly ¾ calling for the long term protection of Bristol Bay

ANCHORAGE, AK – Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay thanks the over 650,000 people who expressed their support for protecting Bristol Bay from harmful mining development in the most recent public comment period for EPA’s draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. In numbers released today, nearly 75% of the over 895,000 comments supported the assessment, which detailed the risks associated with large scale hard rock mining in the region. Bristol Bay is home to a vibrant and lucrative commercial fishery, which supplies nearly 50% of the world’s wild sockeye salmon, sustains 14,000 jobs, and a $1.5 billion annual economy.

“Commercial fishermen across Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and throughout the United States understand just how special the Bristol Bay fishery is,” said Bob Waldrop, Executive Director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. “We are extremely thankful to the hundreds of thousands of others who agree that Bristol Bay is worth protecting for both current and future generations of fishermen. Bristol Bay’s fishermen have spent years building a strong brand for Bristol Bay seafood; we simply can’t risk that hard work and investment by allowing foreign mining companies to build North America’s largest open pit mines where our salmon spawn.”

The comments coming from Alaska provided even stronger support for the assessment, with nearly 90% (or 8,639) of comments supporting the EPA protecting Bristol Bay. In Bristol Bay, 1,206 of the 1,227 comments welcomed the EPA’s assessment.

Commercial fishermen were among the original groups who petitioned the EPA to use its Clean Water Act authority to protect Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine. The EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, which was conducted in response to the petition, is expected to be finished later this year and will inform the agency on future regulatory decisions in the region.

The assessment is based on realistic mining scenarios derived from official documents filed by the Pebble Limited Partnership, the foreign mining conglomerate behind the proposed Pebble Mine. Even without incident, the mine’s footprint would destroy the spawning habitat for the nearly 40 million salmon who return to Bristol Bay each year.