Salmon is a gold mine

As the month of May comes to a close, we are also closing in on your last chance to let the Environmental Protection Agency know how you feel about Pebble Mine.

As of May 31, just three days from now, the comment period for the EPA’s second draft assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed will come to a close.

“So what?” some will say.

The “what” is the future, not just for Bristol Bay salmon, wild salmon or even wild fish the world over. The “what” is the right of the people (not the government — state or federal) to decide what resources are most important to their community for the long term. The people who live and fish in Bristol Bay asked the EPA for help. This is not a case of big government telling the state what it can and can’t do. This is a case of locals and fishermen fighting to protect their livelihoods so they can pass down this way of life to their children and grandchildren. If we value copper and gold over families and traditions, then we’ve certainly lost our way.

It is true that the headwaters of Bristol Bay hold a large deposit of copper. It is true that someday someone will go after that copper. But until there’s a process for extracting it that doesn’t leave the world’s largest sockeye salmon run in the prospect of peril for the rest of time, then perhaps the renewable (and highly valuable) resource of salmon ought to take precedence. With an annual value estimated at $1.5 billion, Bristol Bay’s salmon run is arguably more valuable than a metals mine, for now and for the future.

If you would like to know more about Bristol Bay, including directions on how to make your own comment, please visit our spotlight page.

About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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