Written by Leslie Taylor
Three foreign mining executives walk into a bar and say to anyone who’ll listen, 'We want to dig one of the largest open pit mines on Earth in the middle of Alaska’s world class wild salmon fishery. We promise not to hurt the fishery or interfere with the 22,000 jobs and $1.5 billion it generates each year. And one more thing: We’re going to leave 10 billion tons of contaminated waste in a pond held by earthen dams taller than the Three Gorges Dam in China — forever.'
A good joke? Not a joke at all. In fact, this is the scheme that London-based Anglo-American and Rio Tinto, with their Canadian partner Northern Dynasty Minerals -- called the Pebble Partnership -- have in mind for southwestern Alaska -- a gold and copper mine two miles wide and a mile deep at the headwaters of the incomparable Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery.
Although this week, Pebble’s CEO John Shively and his small army of lobbyists were in Washington trying to persuade White House and members of Congress otherwise, Pebble Mine is quite simply one of the most reckless projects anywhere in the world today. Even major jewelers, led by Tiffany & Co., have opposed it -- because eventually it will contaminate the fishery and the global food source it provides, poison the people, communities, and economy of the region, and destroy one of the world’s vast, pristine wilderness areas.
But it can be stopped — now. Nine Alaskan tribes have petitioned the EPA to pre-empt the Pebble Mine by prohibiting or restricting large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay headwaters. Their request is supported by a wide array of stakeholders in the region, including commercial and recreational fishermen, businessmen, developers, hunters, conservationists, and over 80 percent of the Alaska Natives in the region.
Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>
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The Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance recently announced that the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has awarded the organization a Hollings Grant to reduce whale entanglements in Alaska salmon fisheries by increasing the use of acoustic whale pingers to minimize entanglements in fishing gear.