The science is out! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its watershed assessment today on the risks of large-scale mining to Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed. There can be no doubt that this the salmon fishery is of global significance, and an economic power house. Here are just a few bullet points from the study:
- The Bristol Bay watershed supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world.
- The Kvichak River produces more sockeye salmon than any other river in the world.
- Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery and other ecological resources provide at least 14,000 full and part-time jobs and is valued at about $480 million annually.
- The average annual run of sockeye salmon is about 37.5 million fish.
More importantly, the study concludes that large-scale mining is a threat to the long-term productivity and sustainability of the salmon fishery. The report concludes that at a minimum, large-scale mining would:
- cause the loss of spawning and rearing habitat, the direct loss of 87.5 -141 kilometers of streams,
- cause the loss of 10-17 square kilometers of wetlands,
- significantly diminish habitat quality to an additional 2-10 km of streams as a result of water withdrawals.
- result in significant impacts on fish populations in streams surrounding the mine site, as a result of development and routine operations.
The EPA has the authority under 404c of the Clean Water Act to prohibit the disposal of mine waste into Bristol Bay's waterways. Alaska Native Tribes and commercial fishermen have petitioned the EPA to use its authority to protect the fishery, and we support them in this.
Please join us in sending a message to the EPA in support of Bristol Bay protection.