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Fisherman Fights Alaska Mine with Facts
11/14/2011
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The sorry history of North American hard-rock mining and the particulars of the planned Pebble Mine lead us to oppose this ill-conceived, multi-billion-dollar project.
 
The Pebble Mine is proposed for the headwaters of Bristol Bay, which hosts the world’s biggest salmon runs. Since 2005, we’ve been covering the fight to stop this enormous gold and copper mine … see the “Mining & Seafood Sustainability” section of our news archive.
 
We just found one of the strongest and most succinct anti-Pebble arguments to date, in the form of a blog post by Bristol Bay salmon fisherman Brett Veerhusen.
 
On behalf of all lovers of wild salmon – and the local people, ecosystem, and cultures that rely on these magnificent fish – we thank him for penning such a sharp essay on the fatal flaws at the heart of the Pebble Mine proposal.
 
Real Alaska
shares the reality

We really like the website co-created by Brett Veerhusen and Sierra Anderson, called The Real Alaska, which is the source of Brett’s Pebble Mine essay.
 
Brett and Sierra became childhood friends in Chignik, a small fishing village on the Alaska Peninsula.
 
Post-college, Brett served a short stint in the hedge fund industry, and Sierra roamed the world as a top-rank competitive athlete.
 
Upon returning to commercial fishing, they decided to create their website to “share the lives of real Alaskans”.
 
Check it out!
We saw Brett’s great essay on the just-launched website Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, which informs people about the proposed mine’s risks and rallies opposition by fishermen, the seafood industry, and wild salmon fans.
 
(For more about Brett and the lives of Alaskan fisher folk, see our sidebar concerning the wonderful website he co-created with fisherwoman and childhood friend Sierra Anderson, called “The Real Alaska”.)
 
If you have a connection to commercial fishing or to distribution and sale of wild seafood, please consider visiting the site to sign a “Commercial Fishing Industry National Sign on Letter to the EPA”, asking administrator Lisa Jackson to start a scientific assessment of the proposed mine’s potential impacts. 
 
Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, was an early signatory to the letter.
 
As she said, “We stand shoulder to shoulder with salmon fishermen on this one. Massive-scale mining in the seismically active Bristol Bay watershed poses unacceptable risk to our country’s largest and most valuable remaining wild salmon run – not to mention the fishing jobs that it supports.”
 
Fisherman oppose the mine … and so should wild salmon fans
In August, the first poll of commercial fisherman in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region found that an overwhelming majority – 85 percent – oppose the Pebble Mine.
 
And 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 (over 10 percent) 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, executive director of Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA), which represents all of the salmon driftnet fishermen in Bristol Bay and is one of the original signers of the letter. ”The Pebble project would threaten thousands of good-paying jobs, which are essential to the regional and state economy.”
 
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 half of the world’s annual sockeye salmon harvest.
 
Waldrop continues, “Science has protected and helped sustainably manage the Bristol Bay commercial fishery for 130 years. We trust the scientific approach of the EPA’s watershed assessment will continue to do so.”
 
“Still, political support is very important in order to strengthen the federal government’s desire to act, based on the science of the assessment,” he adds. “That’s why we are asking fishing organizations and fishing-related businesses from throughout the United States to take a moment, go to the Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay website, and join us in signing the EPA letter.”
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