The Clatsop County Democrats recently passed a resolution to support the Environmental Protection Agencys Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, which documents destructive impacts and further risks from the contentious plans to build North Americas largest open-pit mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Clatsop County is home to more than one-third of Oregons 2,100 Bristol Bay commercial fishermen, more than any other county in the state.
The Bristol Bay commercial salmon fishery is critical to our familys livelihood and to thousands of other fishermen across the United States, said Randy Wall, a commercial fishermen on the Brown Bear fishing vessel. My family has commercial fished for generations and we take pride in providing Bristol Bay salmon to people all over the world.
This is one the of last remaining sustainable sources of salmon left on earth and the Pebble Mine could destroy it forever.
The resolution acknowledges the economic threat of building a large-scale open pit mine in Bristol Bay where the wild sockeye salmon fishery is an economic powerhouse that supports 14,000 jobs. The fishery generates $17 million in income for Oregon residents.
The resolution calls the Pebble Mine proposal an unreasonable and unacceptable threat to the economic livelihoods of Clatsop County commercial fishermen who operate in Bristol Bay, due to established science that demonstrates the incompatibility of open-pit mining operations in salmon spawning habitat.
According to the EPAs updated assessment, which was released April 26, the proposed Pebble Mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay could destroy up to 87 miles of salmon streams and up to 4,800 acres of salmon habitat. The mine would unearth and store up to 10 billion tons of toxic waste in perpetuity behind massive earthen dams in a seismically active region. The Bristol Bay salmon runs account for about half the sockeye salmon supply in the world.
At the FisherPoets gathering held at Astoria venues in February, the Pebble Mine issue was a focal point for many poets. The weekend gathering also hosted a seven-person panel to address the concerns and environmental impacts associated with the mine.
John Copp, of Portland, moderated the panel and read poems during an auction that raised money to oppose the project.
Copp retired from fishing in 2012 and said fighting to protect Bristol Bay was the least he could do after it was so good to him as a fishermen.
For me Bristol Bay is far larger than just a place to catch fish and make a few bucks, he said. After a while the bay, as an ecosystem, crawls inside of you and becomes part of who you are.