ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Aug. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The first poll of commercial fisherman in Alaska's Bristol Bay region found that an overwhelming majority – 85 percent – oppose the controversial Pebble Mine proposal.
Moreover, a near unanimous 96 percent believe the headwaters of Bristol Bay should be protected for future generations. The poll, conducted by nonpartisan firm Craciun Research, surveyed 350 or over 10% of commercial fishing permit holders who live in Alaska and outside the state, and has a margin of error of 5.2 percent.
"Alaskan fishermen simply do not want Pebble Mine. They strongly believe we must protect Bristol Bay and its abundant wild fish," said Bob Waldrop, director of Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. "The Pebble project would threaten thousands of good-paying jobs, which are essential to the regional and state economy."
The poll also found that 77 percent of respondents do not believe the Pebble Mine and fishing can safely co-exist.
The proposed Pebble Mine – a partnership of Anglo American and Northern Dynasty – would construct one of North America's largest open pit and underground mines at the headwaters to Bristol Bay, whose fishery supplies roughly 50% of the world's annual sockeye salmon harvest.
Pete Andrew, local resident and commercial fisherman for 40 years said: "Many of us fish in Bristol Bay to make a living and support our families. Bristol Bay's fishery is vital not only to Alaska's economy, but is a matter of national food security and importance."
To protect the salmon, sportsmen, Alaska tribes, and commercial fishermen petitioned the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to restrict or prohibit the disposal of mine waste in Bristol Bay's pristine waters. In February 2011, EPA announced it initiated a watershed assessment to evaluate the suitability of large-scale mining in Bristol Bay. More information on the EPA's actions in Bristol Bay can be found here.
Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association represents nearly 2000 small businessmen (fishermen) and their 5,000 crew members who fish in Bristol Bay. The poll was commissioned by Alaska Conservation Foundation and conducted from May 21 – 31, 2011, and can be viewed here.
SOURCE Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association