ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- After two rounds of scientific peer reviews and public comment periods that generated over one million responses, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released its final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA), which details the dangers of hardrock mining on the Bristol Bay Watershed and its commercial fishery. With its science now finalized and clearly demonstrating that the large-scale mining such as now proposed for the Pebble deposit will cause irreparable and adverse impacts to ecologically important salmon streams and wetlands, fishermen request EPA immediately begin the process of protecting Bristol Bay, Alaska from harmful mining development.
"The Bristol Bay fishermen are weary and exasperated by the economic cloud of uncertainty that Pebble brings to our world-class fishery," said Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. "We implore the Obama Administration and EPA to invoke a swift 404(c) determination so we can continue to fish for generations and maintain Bristol Bay's sustainability, as fishermen have for over 125 years."
In 2012, an unprecedented coalition of over 16,000 fishermen - hailing from Massachusetts, California, Washington, Alaska and beyond - sent a letter to the Obama Administration stating that if science continues to demonstrate the harmful effects from large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed, for EPA to use its authority under Section 404(c) Clean Water Act to protect this vital fishery.
Specifically, the EPA's final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment states Pebble Mine alone, even without accident, would:
- Cause the direct loss of up to 94 miles of salmon-supporting streams.
- Destroy up to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes in the Bristol Bay region.
- Alter streamflows of up to 33 miles of salmon-supporting streams, likely affecting ecosystem structure and function.
- Create a transportation corridor to Cook Inlet crossing wetlands and approximately 64 streams and rivers in the Kvichak River watershed, 55 of which are known or likely to support salmon. Culvert failures, runoff, and spills of chemicals would put salmon spawning areas at risk.
- Require the collection, storage, treatment and management of extensive quantities of mine waste, leachates, and wastewater during mining and "long after mining concludes."
The Bristol Bay commercial fishery provides over 14,000 full-time equivalent jobs nationwide and pumps $1.5 billion in economic impact annually to our nation's economy. This vibrant fishery is responsible for almost 50% of all wild sockeye salmon harvested worldwide and an average of 32 million-sockeye return to Bristol Bay every year. Fishermen nationwide join their compatriots in Bristol Bay to "get it right the first time" and say no to mines like Pebble in Bristol Bay's most sensitive salmon habitat
"Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay thank the EPA for conducting a thorough, three-year scientific analysis of the impacts large-scale mining will have on the Bristol Bay watershed," Waldrop continued. "Fishermen from coast-to-coast understand how important Bristol Bay's salmon are to our nation's fisheries and economy. It is time to protect one of the last great salmon fisheries left on this planet and for the Obama Administration to the majority of Alaskans who oppose large-scale mining in Bristol Bay's salmon stronghold."
CONTACT: Bob Waldrop, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay