Today, Bristol Bay organizations initiated a legal challenge against the Trump Administration’s effort to remove Clean Water Act science-based protections set in place to preserve the integrity of our salmon bearing streams. By removing those protections, the Administration not only broke the law, it made clear that local people will have no voice in the management of our rivers, streams, and wetlands.
The Bristol Bay Defense Alliance, consisting of Bristol Bay Native Association, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, Bristol Bay Reserve Association and Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, are taking legal action on behalf of the residents and fishermen who rely on the Bristol Bay fishery and all it sustains.
The proposed Clean Water Act protections were first requested by six Bristol Bay Tribes in 2010, and quickly supported by commercial and sport fishing groups. The EPA's multi-year public process and the resulting proposed determination included every stakeholder group – our organizations, state government representatives, scientific experts, Bristol Bay residents, and even the Pebble Partnership. All had seats at the table. The Administration’s recent move to withdraw the protections runs counter to the best available science and is an effort to advance a foreign mining company’s interests. The people of Bristol Bay have worked collectively for generations to protect our land and our fisheries, whether it was from fish traps, over fishing, and now even projects like the Pebble Mine. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect the waters and wild salmon that sustain the economy, commercial and sport fisheries, and traditional way of life in Bristol Bay.
BBRSDA Executive Director Andy Wink added, “Bristol Bay is the crown jewel of Alaska’s salmon industry. It is the most valuable salmon fishery in the world, accounting for roughly half of the world’s sockeye salmon harvest. There is simply no precedent for open pit mining coexisting with sockeye salmon on the scale proposed by the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay. The EPA’s Proposed Determination to enact 404c Clean Water Act protections is an important tool for safeguarding the world’s most productive salmon habitat, and we cannot allow it to be cast aside without due process.”