If you are not fishing right now and you are reading this blog, well then you have time on your hands. Instead of reading this blog, you should spend that time doing something productive.
Since you are here, however, let me provide some guidance as to what that productive activity is – help us protect Bristol Bay.
In case you’ve been living under a rock the size of the Pebble Deposit, you know full well that folks have been screaming for some time about Pebble Mine and its potential impacts on Bristol Bay. Well someone has finally listened: United States Environmental Protection Agency.
A while back (May of 2010 to be precise) in-region communities (8 Bristol Bay Tribes, the Bristol Bay Native Association, Bristol Bay Native Corporation), commercial fishing interests, leaders in sport fishing conservation and industry, and a growing list of others, requested the EPA use its rarely used authority, granted under the Clean Water Act to regulate the disposal of dredge and fill material from the likes of Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay watershed. EPA listened.
A few weeks ago, EPA released An Assessment of Potential Impacts of Large Scale Mining on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska. That report details the obvious:
- Bristol Bay is the world-class fishery everyone says it is!
- Providing nearly 50% of global sockeye
- Boasting the largest runs of Chinook on the planet
- Home to gargantuan rainbow trout we all dream about
- And supporting a robust economy and jobs engine – 14,000 jobs and a upwards of half a billion dollars in annual economic revenue.
- Pebble, even if there is no major failure of pipelines, tailings, etc., will have unacceptable adverse impacts on the Bristol Bay fishery.
- Could wipe out at least 86 miles of stream and thousands of acres of wetland
- Reduce stream flow forever altering crucial salmon rearing, headwaters habitat
- Produce waste rock that will most certainly generate acid in periods of months to decades
- Create waste/tailings storage facilitates that will have to managed FOREVER – longer than any state, nation, government, etc. (Yes, even the good ole USA) tend to exist. FOREVER.
- Oh yeah, those tailings would be contained behind some of the largest earthen dams ever constructed, to be managed with technology that has been around for roughly 50 years.
These are just a few key points in a document that provides robust science review to state the obvious: Pebble is bad for Bristol Bay.
The Watershed Assessment is the first step.
I’ve said before and I will say it again. If you don’t speak up for our fisheries, you have no business calling yourself an angler.
Therefore, while you are sitting there, do the right thing and comment to the EPA, tell them to take the next step and protect Bristol Bay. Even if you’ve never fished there, you might dream of fishing there and that is all that matters. Protect this place so that current and future generations can fish there, so that the commercial fishing community continues to thrive and so that Alaska Natives can continue to rely on the bounty of Bristol Bay to sustain their livelihoods. There are too few places like this left on the planet and it is my responsibility, your responsibility, all of our responsibility to protect them.
So, before you go check out the next blog. Before you pour yourself another coffee or beer. Before you think about tying flies or getting ready for your next fishing outing. Take a few minutes, follow this link: www.savebristolbay.org/takeaction comment to the EPA, thank them for their work, tell them to take the next steps and use their authority to restrict dredge and fill material disposal in this precious watershed. Feel free to use points from this blog to make your voice heard. . . I (along with a whole bunch of others) have read the Watershed Assessment, so you don’t have to.
It is the right thing to do.
Oh yeah if you live in Anchorage, Seattle, or Bristol Bay – then show up to one of these community hearings.
Tell some friends, while you are at it.
For more info see: http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/ECOCOMM.NSF/bristol+bay/bristolbay