National Fisherman

Six federally recognized Native Alaskan tribes and commercial fishing interests started what may well prove to be Big Green's biggest ballyhoo ever with a May 2010 letter to the Environmental Protection Agency against the proposed Pebble Mine — a huge prospect of copper, gold, and molybdenum near the vast salmon runs of Bristol Bay.

Pebble Limited Partnership, the mining company, saw the letter as a call for EPA to use Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act — the rarely used "preemptive veto" hammer — that could block mine development before its plans were submitted.

Robert Dillon, spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told me, "the Senate's concern as I see it is the question of due process. That is a very serious problem."

EPA responded to the tribes' letter with an unprecedented and controversial "assessment" of an imaginary mine at the Pebble site, unfairly stuffed with every disaster imaginable to blemish the project. Then the agency held a spate of shamelessly rigged hearings on the fairy-tale report, followed by a mixed peer review of the nonexistent mine's assessment.

Kill Pebble was the most lavishly funded Big Green campaign I know of, with activists on a paid junket to a Pebble investor meeting in London; a snooty Washington reception with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor; chefs in upscale restaurants preparing Kill Pebble Alaska salmon dinners; EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson chumming around Alaska with mine haters; and Mike Kowalski, CEO of Tiffany Inc., with a $250,000 grant from Tiffany Foundation to Trout Unlimited to stop Pebble.

Now, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wants to know who made this mess and who stirred up all that hoopla. Issa invited recently retired EPA biologist Phil North to a transcribed interview — North told a local reporter he pushed the preemptive veto idea inside EPA. North is a sixth-rank employee of EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds in the remote Kenai facility.

Read the full story at the Washington Examiner>>

Inside the Industry

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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