I Speak for the Fish

Mining threatens world's largest sockeye fishery

I Speak for the Fish

Alaska’s Bristol Bay is so much more than a place. Home to the largest sockeye salmon runs on the planet, this incredibly rich ecosystem supports not only globally important fish and wildlife populations, but is also home to over 30 indigenous Yup’ik Eskimo, Alutiiq and Athabaskan tribes who have relied on clean water and healthy salmon for thousands of years. The region’s commercial and sport fisheries support 14,000 jobs for locals and non-residents alike who descend on its rugged terrain every summer with the salmon’s return. There are few places like this left on earth where ways of life, culture, and economy depend on the continued health of habitat and fish at the scale they do in Bristol Bay. That’s why protecting the region from the continued threat of the proposed massive open-pit gold and copper mine, known as the Pebble Mine, at its headwaters is so important.

Sitka Salmon Shares is proud to bring our members sockeye salmon again this year from our partners at Kvichak Fish Company in Bristol Bay. We’re also donating a portion of your member dollars from our 1% for the Wild fund to organization’s working to protect Bristol Bay from the threat of Pebble Mine including United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Salmon State, Alaska Wild Salmon Fund, and Trout Unlimited. Learn more about how you can help at www.savebristolbay.com

A few words from Lindsay Layland, Deputy Director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, who is featured in the video:

Another fishing season has come and gone (my 16th summer on the water), and while I’m excited to settle in for another winter in Dillingham, Alaska with a freezer full of salmon, moose, and berries, I’m also concerned about the state of our lands and waters that sustain the world’s greatest wild salmon runs on the planet. While the fishermen and people of Bristol Bay take the off-season to hang our fishing nets, fix broken equipment, and prepare for next year’s sockeye return, our state and federal governments are pushing for the development of the Pebble Mine – a project that would cause irreparable harm to the pristine ecosystem of the Bristol Bay Watershed.

This past summer was one of the most productive salmon harvests on record for Bristol Bay, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to fish the Nushagak alongside my family, friends, and fellow fishermen. Despite such a successful season, however, the threat of the Pebble Mine project continues to loom overhead. Lately, I’ve found myself worrying about what would happen to my fishing business and my livelihood, along with the traditional way of life of thousands of indigenous people who call Bristol Bay home, if this project were to move forward.

I’m confident in the strength and unified support from people across Southwest Alaska to protect our region, but the more outreach and support that we can garner from people throughout the US and the across the planet, the stronger we’ll be. To take action and use your voice to protect the lands, waters, and fish that Bristol Bay sustains, please feel free to go to UTBB.org – a tribal organization working to keep people informed and active in the current process. And as always, buy, eat, and demand wild Alaskan salmon!

If developed, Pebble Mine will…

  • be the largest open-pit mine in North America

  • create billions of gallons of mine waste housed in two 1,000-acre tailing ponds

  • have five dams to hold the tailing ponds in place, of which one will be taller than Hoover Dam at 740 feet high

  • require 35 billion gallons of local water per year

  • be located in an active earthquake zone

Learn more about the impact at Alaska Conservation Foundation

Site of proposed mine will impact local watersheds

The proposed Pebble mine--which would be the largest open-pit mine in North America--would be situated on the edge of two vast and hugely important watersheds in west-central Alaska: that of the Nushagak River and Kvichak River, the latter which feeds into Iliamna Lake, one of the most fertile sockeye spawning grounds in the world, before ending it’s course in Bristol Bay, home to the largest sockeye salmon harvest in the world. These runs have historically been of 40 million sockeye or more, contributing over $400 million to Alaska's economy annually. Graphic courtesy Fishermen for Bristol Bay.

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