The Bristol Bay Defense Fund, a coalition of largely Alaska-based businesses, tribal consortiums, nonprofit groups and community organizations, launched a new six-figure television, print, digital and mobile billboard campaign urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to veto the Pebble Mine project.
In May the EPA announced plans to prohibit and restrict the use of certain areas in the Bristol Bay watershed as disposal sites for the discharge of dredged or fill material associated with the Pebble Mine. It recently closed a 40-day public comment period on the issue and has extended the timeline to make a final decision whether it should proceed with plans that would block the project, according to Alaska Public Media.
More than half a million people– including 31,000 Alaskans and 2,500 Bristol Bay residents– spoke out to once again resoundingly reject Pebble Mine, according to the coalition.
“The recorded salmon runs have never been larger," the campaign ad states. "The chorus of Alaskans has never been louder. Return peace to Bristol Bay, veto pebble mine now.”
The ads will run in both Washington, DC and Alaska. Several DC-area restaurants will also be participating in Bristol Bay Salmon Week by featuring Bristol Bay sockeye salmon dishes on their menus, according to the defense fund.
During the same week, tribes, commercial fishermen and conservation advocates will be flying to DC to meet with members of the Biden administration — including the EPA, to urge them to "finish the job" to protect Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine, the coalition said.
The total economic value, including subsistence uses, of the Bristol Bay watershed’s salmon resources was estimated at more than $2.2 billion (€2 billion) in 2019.
The Bristol Bay commercial salmon fishery generates the largest component of this economic activity, resulting in 15,000 jobs and an economic impact of $2 billion (€2 billion) in 2019, $990 million (€990 million) of which was in Alaska.
The Bristol Bay Defense Fund includes the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Wild Salmon Center, Native American Rights Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Salmon State and Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.