Written by Jen Finn
The battle lines are being drawn for what is becoming one of America's largest natural-resources fights in decades, pitting the mining industry against defenders of a way of life and an economy that are inextricably linked to one of the United States' most intact and productive ecosystems.
The Bristol Bay region in southwest Alaska, often referred to as "America's fish basket," is home to the most valuable salmon fishing ground in the United States. This pristine area supports the production of more than half of the world's sockeye salmon, one of the most popular and prized types of salmon. Additionally, the region supports substantial catches of four other salmon species and herring. In total, the salmon fisheries of Bristol Bay support the equivalent of nearly 10,000 full-time jobs and create $1.5 billion in annual economic output. It is a prime example of a conservation economy, defined as a sustainable economy that directly depends on a healthy ecosystem.
But a large mineral deposit is located at the headwaters of two of the major rivers that flow into Bristol Bay, and international mining companies are eager to extract the hundreds of billions of dollars in gold, copper, and molybdenum found there. Extraction of these precious metals will require open-pit mining—digging up and separating the ore with toxic chemicals—on a massive scale with very few precedents.
Because of this, mining in the Bristol Bay region has become extremely controversial, drawing the attention of Alaska Natives, fishermen, and other stakeholders. Specifically, opponents have serious concerns with one particular mine—the Pebble Project—which happens to be the furthest along in the process. A project of the Pebble Limited Partnership, which teams two multinational mining companies, Anglo American plc and Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., the Pebble Project would be one of the world's largest open-pit mines.
Read the full story at Center for American Progress>>
NOAA recently published a proposed rule that would implement a traceability plan to help combat IUU fishing. The program would seek to trace the origins of imported seafood by setting up reporting and filing procedures for products entering the U.S.
The traceability program would collect data on harvest, landing, and chain of custody of fish and fish products that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and fraud.Read more...
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...