Final Comment Numbers on the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment Show Clear Support for Protecting Bristol Bay
Over 650,000 people support the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment; Demand protections for world-class fishery
Numbers released today show that nearly three in four Americans who commented on the EPA’s draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment supported protecting Bristol Bay, Alaska from harmful mining development in the form of the Pebble Mine. Approximately 654,000 of the over 895,000 total comments supported the EPA’s efforts to protect Bristol Bay, with numbers even higher among comments made by individuals (not mass mailed) and those coming from Alaska. The Bristol Bay region is a destination for sportsmen and anglers across the world and is known for its trophy rainbow trout, king salmon, and many other fish species.
“The American people have spoken: they simply do not want the Pebble Mine built on top of one of the world’s great sport and commercial fisheries,” said Tim Bristol, Director of Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program. “The EPA should quickly finalize its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment and use its Clean Water Act authority to ensure the long term protection of Bristol Bay and its fishery. The science supports it, Alaskans support it, and hunters and anglers across the lower 48 support the EPA as well.”
The comments coming specifically from Alaska were even more impressive, with nearly 5,000 people – or 84% of total comments – supportive of the EPA’s efforts to protect Bristol Bay. Those numbers were even higher in Bristol Bay, where 98% of over 1,200 comments are in favor of lasting protections for Bristol Bay. Among national individual comments, over 90% supported the EPA.
The EPA began its Watershed Assessment after 9-federally recognized tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, and others in Bristol Bay requested Clean Water Act protections from the proposed Pebble Mine. After two drafts, two rounds of public comments, and outside peer review, the EPA is preparing to finalize the Watershed Assessment later this year. In the draft assessment, the EPA determined that even without incident, a mine on the scale of Pebble could destroy up to 90 miles of salmon streams and 4,800 acres of wetland salmon spawning habitat.