Alaska’s Bristol Bay is one of the most pristine ecosystems worldwide, and is endangered by the suggested copper, gold and molybdenum mega open-pit mine.
Bristol Bay is home to the most abundant sockeye salmon fisheries in the world, as well as strong seasonally occurred streams of chum, silver salmon and king salmon. King salmons are the first to run up the river, followed by red salmons and chum salmons. The last to run up the river are Silver and Pink salmons. Sockeye salmon is a relatively rare creature on an international scale. Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest fishing for wild salmon.
Apart from Salmons, Alaska’s Bristol bay is also home to Brown Bears (grizzly bears) , eagles, and wolves. Brown bears are not identified as endangered species, but they face an imminent threat in Southwest Alaska from the Pebble mine’s suggested growth. Every year, brown bears in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska spend roaming the mainly unspoiled territory between the coast and huge national parks and reserves lined with mountains. These bears are one of the most iconic wildlife species found in America’s excellent outdoors, standing up to a foot taller than the average person, and weighing as much as a grand piano. They need to eat lots of salmon, which is their main food, along with the fresh flowers and plants of the region, before going for hibernation in winter.
There are also 15 distinct indigenous tribes in Bristol Bay. Their traditional lifestyles in Bristol Bay, Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Alutiiq, rely on sustainable harvesting of renewable resources from the watershed, wild salmon from Bristol Bay, and tourism.
Not only does the proposed Pebble Mine threaten the communities whose business depends on salmon fishing, it also destroys the abundant wildlife ecosystems that rely on the Bristol Bay. It provides half of the wild sockeye salmon in the world, supports 14,000 jobs, and generates annual economic activity of $1.5 billion. It is also a horrible investment, pitting against an endless food supply and an eternal poison supply.
Developers of Pebble mine want to dig a one-mile and quarter-mile deep mine. Carving Pebble Mine would lead to 3,000 acres of wetlands and more than 21 miles of salmon streams being destroyed. Pebble Mine would generate 10 billion tonnes of waste that would permanently threaten the local ecosystem by storing it in a region that is moist and seismically active. The release of billions of tonnes of waste into Alaska’s Bristol Bay could ruin an estimated $1.5 billion worth of fish producing 30 million to 60 million fish per year. The scar on the most pristine ecosystem of Alaska would be visible from space.
The Bristol Bay region of Alaska is home to an abundance of biodiversity. In an era of climate change and development pressure, it is essential that we safeguard these wild areas.