Posted by: jblevins | October 15, 2009

Protecting Bristol Bay = Eating Delicious Salmon!

Next week is Bristol Bay Wild Salmon Week here in Washington, DC, and I couldn’t be more excited – mostly because it is a great excuse to endulge in some delicious, delicious salmon!  But, there is also a very important issue, whcih calls us to attention, as the watershed that produces these salmon, Bristol Bay, is currently under threat.

The Bristol Bay watershed supports the world’s largest remaining wild sockeye salmon fishery.  This bountiful resource provides a sustainable supply of food for the Alaska Native subsistence communities that rely on it as their primary source of food, and a healthy sustainable source of seafood to people throughout the world. However, this watershed, and the tremendous salmon fishery that it supports, is at serious risk from two significant mineral development issues: a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recommendation to open this area to mining and a proposal to develop a massive copper and gold mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay.

Stewardship of the lands and waters God has entrusted to our care is both a critical part of our call to protect creation and a responsibility shared by all citizens. For more than three decades, these 1.1 million acres of BLM land were closed to mineral development because of unresolved land claims stemming from the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.  In late 2008, the BLM released its first ever Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Bristol Bay area, and -despite local and national objections – the BLM recommended that 99 percent of the public lands be opened to hard rock mining and oil and gas development.

The proposed Pebble Mine is a direct and inevitable threat to this sustainable and internationally significant resource. Based on current ore projections, the proposed mine will be the largest mine in North America, generating 9 billion tons of harmful mine waste (tailings) that will be stored behind earthen dams, and remain on the landscape in perpetuity.  The mine and its associated infrastructure will create a massive industrial footprint at the heart of this pristine salmon-based watershed.

It is through water that all of Creation is gifted with life; life, in all of its forms, is not possible without water.  Furthermore, Lands and wilderness provide refuge for the body and soul, offer blessings of sustenance like soil and water, and serve as stunning reminders of God’s power and grace in our lives.  So, what can we do?  You can vote with your fork anytime – supporting the industry by buying salmon from the region, and eating at restaurants where it is served. Also, the documentary “Red Gold” features this region, and its threats, and is available for viewing.  In fact, combine the two, and partner a salmon tasting with a film viewing!

So, protect Bristol Bay.  And eat some delicious salmon at the same time!



  1. Have to look into this a bit more. Interesting and usually tasty. Curious to know how far away is the mining proposed from the Bay?

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