Sport Fishing Community Beginning Bristol Bay Protection Petition Drive

The following is courtesy of Businesses for Bristol Bay:

Today marks the start of a monthlong petition drive that will once again engage sportsmen and women in the epic battle to protect one of the planet’s finest wilderness fishing destinations – southwest Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay region.

This season in Bristol Bay gave us an in-your-face reminder of exactly what so many have fought so hard to defend.  As of early August, a record-setting return of 65.8 million sockeye salmon came back to the rivers of Bristol Bay.  This was the 7th consecutive year with a sockeye return over 50 million fish.  The commercial fleet harvested 40.2 million fish (4th highest in history, likely to end up 3rd highest once the final numbers are tallied).  That means that an astounding 25.6 million fish moved up river to continue the cycle of Bristol Bay salmon.  This escapement number is the 3rd highest in the recorded history of the fishery.

Just over one year ago, President (then candidate) Biden stated that Bristol Bay is “no place for a mine.”  While serving as Vice President, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Obama used peer-reviewed science to initiate a process under the Clean Water Act that would protect Bristol Bay from the threat of Pebble Mine and other potential large-scale mining development. That process was held up by litigation from Pebble against the EPA, and the four years of the Trump Administration saw twists and turns that would have won a medal in gymnastics at the recent Olympics.  In the end, the line was held and Pebble’s permit was denied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  While a good thing, the permit denial is not permanent and Pebble is litigating over that decision.  The door remains open for Pebble (or another mining firm) to continue efforts to advance projects to mine in the Bristol Bay region.  In fact, Pebble’s CEO has recently stated that the company has no intention to abandon its plan to build a mine in Bristol Bay. Right now, EPA has the opportunity to resume the Clean Water Act process and that is what we are seeking.  It would fit squarely with President Biden’s “no place for a mine” declaration and we must press the agency to act this fall to ensure the process can be completed in a timely fashion.

That’s why the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, the AFFTA Fisheries Fund, Businesses for Bristol Bay are excited to announce a new promotion aimed at getting the EPA to “finish the job” and reinstate the Clean Water Act process to secure protection for this incredibly productive and valuable region.

By signing the Bristol Bay Challenge, sportsmen and women will receive a free entry in a drawing for prizes from many outdoor brands.  Additional entries may be gained by making a donation to the AFFTA Fisheries Fund

“As an industry that has long been attached to and supportive of this campaign, Bristol Bay is a success story for sustainable fishery management when salmon runs nearly everywhere else are struggling.  It’s proof that we can have both thriving wild salmon populations and economic prosperity,” said Lucas Bissett, Executive Director of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

“In 2019, the AFFTA Fisheries Fund organized a Day for Bristol Bay which raised over $100,000 for the Bristol Bay Defense Fund and we are excited to continue our support.  The fight for Bristol Bay is in our DNA and will remain so until we see Bristol Bay protected,” said Whitney Tilt, Executive Director of the AFFTA Fisheries Fund.

Scott Hed, Businesses for Bristol Bay sporting organizer sums things up, saying “Anglers have stepped up to the plate, time and again, over the course of this battle – and we need them more than ever to take action one more time.  It’s great to have AFFTA, the AFFTA Fisheries Fund, and so many Businesses for Bristol Bay brand allies supporting this drive to get the campaign over the finish line.”