January 31, 2023

The EPA’s “Recommended Rule” follows widespread public support for continued protection of Bristol Bay and a record-breaking fishing season

Bristol Bay is home to the world's largest sockeye salmon run, generating billions in revenue for the fishing industry.
Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run, generating billions in revenue for the fishing industry.

(Dillingham, Alaska) – On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its recommended regulation regarding the Bristol Bay Pebble deposit. This marks the next step in the process for the EPA to stop the Pebble Mine by issuing 404(c) Clean Water Act protections for the region.

The release of the recommended rule brings EPA closer than ever to enacting permanent, long-lasting safeguards for Bristol Bay through the 404(c) process. The next step in this process is for the agency to formalize safeguards in a “final determination” before they come into effect.

Earlier this summer, EPA released a revised proposed rule and began a comment period to allow the public to consider its proposed protections. More than half a million people — including 31,000 Alaskans and 2,500 Bristol Bay residents — again spoke out strongly against Pebble Mine.

“We are encouraged that the Environmental Protection Agency is taking this important step to advance the protection of Bristol Bay after our fishermen and half a million Americans have opposed the proposed regulation since May,” said Bristol Bay Executive Director Andy Wink Seafood Development Association. “Our fishermen will review the EPA’s recommended provision and hope that permanent conservation efforts are complete to ensure the world’s largest wild salmon resource is finally protected.”

Protection of the Clean Water Act was first applied for by Bristol Bay’s Tribes in 2010 and commercial fishermen have worked together to seek durable and lasting protection for the habitat that sustains Bristol Bay’s irreplaceable and record-breaking fisheries.

“The record-breaking return of salmon this summer was due in large part to Bristol Bay’s pristine waters and healthy habitat,” said Katherine Carscallen, Director of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay. “Our fishermen were able to bring 60 million redfish to market – something that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. EPA’s release of its recommended determination today is an important step in completing much-needed safeguards for the region by the end of the year. We all know what’s at stake, it’s time for the EPA to get the job done.”

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