This is a VERY serious matter facing not only the salmon and fish stocks, but all the wildlife and landscapes in the Bristol Bay area.
Here is piece of a well rounded article on the subject.
For thousands of years, Alaska’s Bristol Bay region has been home to one of the Earth’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles: Each summer, tens of millions of bright, silvery salmon return from ocean waters and pour into the bay, before separating into runs bound for several major river systems.
While salmon throughout much of North America have been wiped out or become endangered, Bristol Bay’s fecund waters continue to produce the planet’s richest wild salmon fishery. Nurtured by clean, nutrient-rich lands and waters, legions of fish are harvested – 32 million salmon in the bay last year alone – by commercial, subsistence, and sport fishers alike, producing annual revenues of more than $110 million.
In recent years, however, another potential source of immense wealth has emerged around Bristol Bay. At the headwaters of two drainages that flow into the bay, beneath lands owned by the state of Alaska, a company named Northern Dynasty Minerals has discovered a gargantuan mineral deposit. The granitic rocks hidden beneath an otherwise ordinary upland basin and rounded foothills contain riches beyond anything ever discovered in North America – and possibly the world.
The find is known as Pebble Mine, and, with its full extent yet to be determined, officials estimate that it contains 67 billion pounds of extractable copper, 82 million ounces of gold, and 4 billion pounds of molybdenum. At current prices, the mine’s metals are worth $345 billion to $500 billion. That makes the Pebble Mine the second-largest deposit of its kind ever found, only slightly behind Indonesia's Grasberg Mine. Some suspect Pebble will become No. 1 once its full extent has been learned.
Now, with the defeat last month of an Alaska ballot measure that would have prohibited new mines from discharging pollutants that would harm humans or salmon, Northern Dynasty and its partners are continuing with efforts to assess the size of these deposits. They have been greatly helped by Gov. Sarah Palin — the Republican candidate for vice president — who, despite a constitutional ban on state officials becoming involved in ballot initiatives, publicly expressed her “personal” opposition to the measure. Many say the popular governor’s stance was decisive. Before her comments, polls suggested that citizens supported the referendum. Afterward — and following the use of her picture in advertisements opposing the tough mining initiative — the measure was voted down on Aug. 26, with 57 percent against and 43 percent in favor.
click the link the continue on---->http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2062