To download the following letter with original signatures, please click here: 7-14 Seafood industry letter to Sec. Jewell (PDF)

For additional background on this issue, please see this article by BBRSDA Executive Director Sue Aspelund: Bristol Bay fishery needs protection from oil and gas leasing


Preserve the Fisheries of Bristol Bay and the North Aleutian Basin


July 2014

Dear Secretary Jewell:

As members of Alaska’s thriving business community, we are asking for your help in securing permanent protection for Bristol Bay and the southeast Bering Sea (North Aleutian Basin) from offshore oil and gas drilling and thereby protect the region’s world-class fisheries. We, along with all Alaskans, strongly support a diverse economy that provides for this and future generations. However, offshore drilling in this region is severely at odds with the sustainable economic opportunities and reliable revenue streams provided by the region’s fisheries.

Our companies and commercial seafood associations ask you to recognize that the fisheries in and around the North Aleutian Basin are vital to the economic stability of the region and the Nation. These are the most productive fishing grounds in the United States, propelling an industry worth billions of dollars each year and providing nearly fifty percent of America’s seafood. This area supports the world’s largest wild salmon run as well as Pacific halibut, herring and crab fisheries that provide tens of thousands of jobs throughout Alaska and along the Pacific Coast and maintains the subsistence way of life of many Alaska Native communities and tribes.

Since the early 1980s, the inclusion of the North Aleutian Basin in Outer Continental Shelf leasing programs has been so controversial that it is one of the few areas in the nation where leases have been repurchased from oil and gas interests at the urging of fishermen and regional stakeholders. Your predecessor and President Obama have described Bristol Bay as a “national treasure” and acted to protect it through a withdrawal from leasing through 2017. Yet, after nearly 40 years of uncertainty, future proposals to drill for oil and gas in the North Aleutian Basin could jeopardize these world-class fisheries and the businesses and communities they support. We need to secure a more permanent solution.

We respectfully urge you to protect Bristol Bay and the North Aleutian Basin permanently from all future offshore oil and gas leasing for the long-term sustainability of these vital resources.


Lea Klingert, Executive Director
Alaska Commercial and Agriculture Bank

David Harsila, President
Alaska Independent Fishermen’s Marketing Association

Linda Behnken, Executive Director
Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association

Robert J. Wurm, Managing Director/CEO
Alaska Leader Fisheries

Art Nelson, Executive Director
Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association

Robin Samuelsen, Chairman
Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation

Sue Asplund, Executive Director
Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association

Scott Blake, President and CEO
Copper River Seafoods

Jan Standaert, President
Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union

Greg Favretto, President

Charlie Gordon
Finest Kind Seafoods

Robert Alverson, Manager
Fishing Vessel Owners Association

Doug Drum, President
Indian Valley Meats

Kevin Kaldestad, CEO
Mariner Boats

Izetta Chambers, Owner
Naknek Family Fisheries

Mark Palmer, President and CEO
Ocean Beauty Seafoods, LLC

Vojtech Novak, CEO
Togiak Seafoods, LLC

Keith Colburn
F/V Wizard