Dear President Obama,
As chefs who value sustainable wild salmon, we are writing to ask for your support of Bristol Bay, Alaska’s salmon fishery, where foreign mining companies are proposing North America’s largest open-pit gold and copper mine. Now more than ever our nation must defend sustainable, domestic food sources that are both healthy and affordable. Bristol Bay presents an opportunity to permanently protect one of our nation’s last wild foods and the thousands of renewable jobs that depend upon it.
While wild salmon stocks have disappeared around the world, Bristol Bay remains a thriving salmon stronghold. Bristol Bay’s salmon have nourished Native people and communities for thousands of years, sustaining their subsistence lifestyle and culture. For the last 130 years, Bristol Bay’s salmon have supported a thriving salmon fishery which sustains over 12,000 jobs each year and generates over $350 million annually. With an average of 40 million salmon returning to its watershed each summer, Bristol Bay is one of the last great wild salmon fisheries left in the world, supplying over 40% of the world’s sockeye salmon. The proposed Pebble Mine, which foreign mining companies want to develop in Bristol Bay’s headwaters, could threaten and destroy all of this. With its massive size, sensitive location, and sulfide-filled ore body, the Pebble Mine is the wrong mine in the wrong place. In the event of an environmental disaster or toxic poisoning of Bristol Bay’s clean waters, Americans will bear the costs and the consequences.
At the request of Bristol Bay Tribes, Native corporations, commercial fishermen, seafood processors, sport anglers, jewelers, chefs, and religious groups, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has conducted a Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. We commend your Administration for building this scientific foundation that will help inform whether or not the EPA should use its authority under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay’s salmon fisheries. We urge you to stand behind their efforts and encourage an efficient review process that protects American jobs and resources.
As our nation’s leader, you can decide the fate of Bristol Bay and this irreplaceable national treasure that is at the core of our nation’s history and deserves a place in our future. By protecting Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery, we can protect the health of future generations, a Native culture that has existed for thousands of years, and renewable jobs and opportunities for Americans.