Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 to issue their proposal to protect one of the world's most valuable salmon fisheries, in Bristol Bay, Alaska, from the risks posed by large-scale mining at the Pebble deposit. This mine, the development of which is backed by Northern Dynasty Minerals and the Pebble Limited Partnership, would be one of the largest open pit copper mines in the world, and science has shown it would threaten one of the world's most productive salmon fisheries.
"I applaud the EPA for recognizing the real threat posed by this shortsighted mining proposal and taking action to protect Washington state's fishing families," said Senator Murray. "The EPA's Watershed Assessment has demonstrated that large scale mining such as the proposed Pebble Mine would devastate this critical industry that supports thousands of local families and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to the regional economy. Today's proposal is a step forward in ensuring this renewable salmon resource will be available for generations to come."
The Bristol Bay watershed is an area of exceptional ecological value with salmon productivity unrivaled anywhere in North America. The region's streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds provide intact habitat that supports all five species of Pacific salmon found in North America: coho, Chinook, sockeye, chum, and pink. These salmon populations are critical to the health of the entire ecosystem, which is home to more than 20 other fish species, 190 bird species, and more than 40 terrestrial mammal species, including bears, moose, and caribou. Earlier this year, the EPA released a watershed assessment that details the potential impacts of a large scale mine development near Bristol Bay.
EPA Region 10's proposal to protect the Bristol Bay watershed outlines restrictions that would protect waters that support salmon in or near the Pebble deposit. These restrictions apply to impacts associated with large-scale mining of the Pebble deposit and no other lands or development are subject to the restrictions.
Bristol Bay supports commercial, subsistence, and recreational fishing industries that are worth hundreds of millions in economic yield each year and create thousands of jobs.