AFFTA board members Jim Klug, Larry Barrett and Andrew Bennett testified May 31, 2012 in Seattle, Washington during the EPA’s public hearing on the recent Bristol Bay Watershed assessment.
AFFTA has been a strong supporter of protections for Bristol Bay and appreciates EPA’s pro-active approach to protecting the watershed. “Our industry is united in its opposition to the development of the Pebble Mine project, and we believe that the Bristol Bay watershed – as the home to the largest salmon runs in North America and the world – is a one-of-a-kind resource that cannot be put at risk. This issue is not only about protecting both commercial and recreational fishing jobs in the Bristol Bay region, but also about the proud tradition of hunting and fishing for all Americans and what the waters and the salmon of Bristol Bay mean to anglers” said Jim Klug AFFTA Board chairman and Director of Operations at Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures.
“Opposition to the Pebble Mine includes an incredibly diverse, broad, and bipartisan coalition that has come together to protect Bristol Bay. This well-organized coalition includes commercial fishing interests, tourism interests, conservationists, Native Alaskans, recreational hunters and anglers, the majority of the current Alaskan population, thousands of businesses throughout Alaska and throughout the country, and over 85% of the people who actually live and work in Bristol Bay ” said Klug.
“As a born Alaskan and owner of a lodge in Alaska, I’m opposed to large scale mining in Bristol Bay, because I feel that the risk that a large scale mine has an adverse impact on this healthy, unique fishery is too great. I currently live in Washington, where our decisions balancing development with management of our natural resources have decimated salmon populations, and I don’t want to see the same thing happen in my great home state of Alaska,” said Andrew Bennett, AFFTA Board member and owner of Deneki Outdoors.
On May 18, 2012 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. The assessment is an important step toward protecting this world class fishery and fly-fishing destination.
Outdoor recreation is a vital economic engine for our country and Alaska, and the clean waters of Bristol Bay and its tributaries are crucial for the sustainability of salmon and other wildlife species, which make Bristol Bay not just important to fly fishing, but to everyone that enjoys the outdoors.
The 339 page, science based draft assessment, highlighted the ecological and economic importance of Bristol Bay for the region;
- Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery and other natural resources provide at least 14,000 full and part-time jobs and are valued at about $480 million annually.
- The average annual run of sockeye salmon is about 37.5 million fish.
- Even at its minimum size, mining the Pebble deposit would eliminate or block 55 to 87 miles of salmon streams and at least 2500 acres of wetlands – key habitat for sockeye and other fishes.
AFFTA recently joined 500 hunting and angling groups across the country in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson asking the agency “to proactively fulfill its mission to protect the environment and human health in Bristol Bay, AK by using its authority under Clean Water Act Section 404(c) to withdraw waters and wetlands in the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed from future specification as disposal sites for dredge and fill activity associated with mining operations.”