WWF Official Statement
Today, the EPA issued its Final Determination on protections for Alaska’s Bristol Bay under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. In response, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Steve MacLean, managing director of WWF’s US Arctic program.
The EPA’s determination is a major victory for Bristol Bay as well as Alaska Native communities. The decision rightly follows scientific consensus and the wishes of the majority of Alaskans.
Home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, Bristol Bay supports a sustainable fishery worth over $2 billion and more than 15,000 jobs. Today’s decision recognizes the value provided by this intact, healthy ecosystem and its critical importance to both wildlife and people.
— end of statement —
About Alaska’s Bristol Bay Ecosystem
Alaska’s Bristol Bay is a unique and fragile ecosystem. Located in southwest Alaska, the bay provides an important habitat to a wide variety of plants and animals, including salmon, bears, whales, seals, seabirds and multiple types of trout. The waters are also home to subsistence fishermen who have been fishing in the area for many generations.
Bristol Bay is renowned for its abundant salmon population and its productive fisheries. Each summer over 30 million sockeye salmon return to Bristol Bay’s estuaries and rivers where they spawn their young before heading out to sea again.
This massive influx of fish helps support hundreds of species that depend on these annual runs for their own success in the food chain – from eagles snatching up juvenile fish as prey to grizzly bears feasting on spawning salmon carcasses along the banks of rivers.
About Pebble Mine
Alaska’s Pebble Mine is a project that has been in development since the late 2000s. The mine, located near Bristol Bay, Alaska, is one of the largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits in the world. It also holds significant concentrations of other minerals such as molybdenum and zinc.
Proposed by Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., a mining company based in Canada, it’s estimated that Pebble Mine could bring up to $300 billion dollars worth of metals to market over its lifetime.
The project has faced considerable opposition due to environmental concerns. Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest run of wild sockeye salmon and many worry about how a mine would affect local wildlife and water quality.