WASHINGTON, March 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Chefs, restaurateurs and food lovers from across the country called on the federal Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska's wild salmon fishery from the dangers of the proposed Pebble Mine.
Nearly 200 people – including Chefs Tom Colicchio, Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, Barton Seaver and Nora Pouillon – sent a letter on Tuesday to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging her to use the agency's authority under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining and development. More wild salmon come from Bristol Bay than any other place on earth.
At a press conference at Equinox Restaurant on Tuesday, chefs kicked off the week-long Save Bristol Bay Week. More than 20 restaurants will serve Bristol Bay salmon in the Washington, D.C. area, demonstrating the culinary value of this sustainable fishery. In addition, Alaska Natives, commercial fishing groups, hunters and anglers are meeting with legislators and agency members in Washington, D.C. to ask for protection of Bristol Bay. The EPA has the authority under Section 404(C) of the Clean Water Act to protect public waters from large-scale mining activity.
"Bristol Bay is our nation's largest and most valuable wild salmon fishery, making it a critical food and revenue source for the United States," said Todd Gray, chef and co-owner of Equinox Restaurant. "A huge open-pit mine in the Bristol Bay region could eliminate a source of healthy, sustainable fish from our menus."
The EPA took the first step toward protecting the Bristol Bay watershed in southwest Alaska on Feb. 7, when the agency announced plans to initiate a scientific study of the Bristol Bay watershed to better understand how future large-scale development projects could affect Bristol Bay's water quality, fisheries, and communities.
"Bristol Bay has one of the few remaining, healthy fisheries in the world," said Chef Nora Pouillon, owner of Restaurant Nora. "Salmon is an important part of a healthy, sustainable diet, and I strongly urge the EPA to protect this renewable wild food source. I want wild Bristol Bay salmon to remain on menus for generations to come."
Bristol Bay supports a roughly $450 million a year fishing and tourism industry and sustains about 12,000 jobs. Based on preliminary plans, the proposed Pebble Mine would dig an open- pit gold and copper mine up to two miles wide and 1,700 feet deep. Operated by multi-national mining companies, this mine could dump up to 10 billion tons of perpetually toxic waste in the heart of the Bristol Bay watershed. This area is known for frequent earthquakes, which puts the watershed – and all its fish and wildlife - at an even greater risk for long-term toxic pollution and catastrophic damage.
"Alaska residents and salmon fishermen are so grateful for the support from our nation's food and restaurant industries to protect our last great salmon fishery, Bristol Bay's communities, and a way of life that has existed for thousands of years," said Tim Bristol, Director of Trout Unlimited's Alaska Program. "We are confident that after the science and other public input are considered, the EPA and the Obama Administration will join Alaska Natives, chefs, restaurant owners, anglers, and hunters to protect the extraordinary region and its fisheries."
The letter to the EPA can be found here and for more information, visit:
For more information, contact:
Kristin Dizon, 206-631-1989 or KristinD@strategies360.com
Lesley Rogers, (206)-334-1483 or LesleyR@strategies360.com
SOURCE Trout Unlimited