Bristol Bay Forever on November ballot
October 8, 2014
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Protecting salmon is on the November ballot. More on Bristol Bay Forever after this …
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A ballot measure to protect salmon in Southwest hasn’t grabbed as many headlines as pot and campaign politics. Sponsored by the group Bristol Bay Forever, it will ask voters to give the Alaska legislature final say in any large scale oil, gas and mining projects in the 36,000 square miles of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve.
“The initiative basically does three significant things to the existing fisheries reserve. It adds those large scale metallic mines to things requiring legislative approval, it broadens the geographic area to include the entire drainage including uplands, and it also applies not just to state waters or state lands. It applies to state, private, and federal lands within the reserve.”
Dick Mylius is a former Division of Mining, Land, and Water Director speaking at an Alaska Common Ground forum in Dillingham. The proposed Pebble Mine, he says, would take a direct hit if the ballot measure passes.
“Pebble is within the Bristol Bay Fishery Reserve and would be greater than 640 acres and is a large scale metallic sulfide mine, so if this passed, it would require that the legislature approve a future pebble mine at the end of the permitting process. However, Pebble has not submitted any applications to develop a mine at this point, and there are also other known mineral deposits within the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve that could also be subject to the state laws.”
The Reserve was created in 1972 as a way to safeguard salmon from oil and gas development. Legislative approval would add another layer of protection says Anders Gustafson, Director of the Renewable Resources Coalition.
“They’ll tell you what you need to adjust and what you need to change, and that’s the way it should be, back and forth, a working process. But in the end, there’s no one saying, “all right, you’ve got this permit to dredge here, you’ve got this permit to build this road. Where is the permit that says should we do it at all?” I see the “could permits”, can we do this, but where’s the should? Is this gonna have a bad effect overall, is this the right thing to do in general? There is no net end result that evaluates the impacts of all these permits together.”
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, an Alaska corporation proudly supporting Alaska’s coastal communities and the Alaskans who depend on fishing for their livelihoods and culture. In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch. www.oceanbeauty.com