Legislation to strengthen protections for Bristol Bay announced

A new bill could protect the world’s most productive salmon fishery

An important step has been taken to permanently safeguard one of the last great wonders of the salmonid world.

U.S. Representative Mary Peltola (D-AK) has introduced a bill that would Congressionally prohibit the discharge of mine waste into rivers, lakes and wetlands that surround the Pebble deposit. The “Bristol Bay Protection Act” would further solidify the Environmental Protection Agency’s determination that mining the Pebble deposit would have unacceptable adverse impacts on the fisheries, wildlife and recreational opportunities in the area.

Bristol Bay’s abundance is miraculous.

This legislation is significant because of its potential to protect Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon runs more effectively than any previous measure.

Time to peel off the sticker?

If you’ve been paying attention to the Pebble fight for a while now, you may be wondering: isn’t Bristol Bay safe?

I was recently asked “can I take the No Pebble Mine sticker off of my car yet?” Unfortunately, the answer is no. Not yet. Both Pebble Limited Partnership and the State of Alaska have filed lawsuits seeking to overturn Clean Water Act 404(c) safeguards. We will keep seeing pushbacks like this until robust, watershed-wide protections are in place. Representative Peltola’s proposed legislation is an important first step to get us there.

A place worth safeguarding – Bristol Bay. Photo by Fly Out Media.

“I thought that I could finally fully focus on running our business without the constant worry of Pebble Mine on the horizon,” said Nanci Morris Lyon, owner of Bear Trail Lodge in King Salmon, Alaska. “But the lawsuits brought by the State of Alaska and Pebble Partnership threaten to erase the good protections for our fish and wildlife that local people have long advocated for. We can’t stop until durable, watershed wide safeguards are put in place, and Representative Peltola’s legislation is a good start in that direction.”  

While TU celebrates this step, we will also be readying ourselves for the long and unpredictable road through Congress that is ahead. Over the next year we will be organizing our nationwide network of supporters and building bi-partisan support for Bristol Bay. To do so, we need your support. Please ask your Congressional Delegation to support the Bristol Bay Protection Act and share this incredible opportunity with your family and friends. As the threats of several lawsuits loom, legislative protections for Bristol Bay are more important than ever.

Ask your Congressperson for protections now. Photo by Fly Out Media.

To spawn in Bristol Bay’s waters, wild salmon must swim thousands of miles upstream. They face a myriad of predators, altered ocean and river conditions from climate change and the unrelenting force of gravity. Their journey is nothing short of miraculous. The same can be said of the Alaska Native tribes, fishermen and allies who have fought to prevent Pebble from forever changing Bristol Bay. They have faced multinational mining corporations, the exhaustion of a long battle and many setbacks along the way.

Success is just around the next riverbend: if passed, legislative protections will provide long-term protections and mark a significant triumph in our upstream battle. That’s pretty miraculous too.

By Marian Giannulis.