Bristol Bay Fishermen Sue BBRSDA Over Pebble Mine

Six Bristol Bay fishermen, funded by developers of the proposed Pebble mine, are suing the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) over its contracts with mine opponents SalmonState and United Tribes of Bristol Bay.

In their complaint filed in Alaska Superior Court, BBRSDA members Trefim Andrew, Tim Anelon, Gary Nielsen, Henry Olympic, Abe Williams and Braden Williams contend that the BBRSDA can only legally use its money to market seafood. The six harvesters are represented by the international law firm Perkins Coie, which was hired on their behalf by the Pebble Limited Partnership.

According to the BBRSDA, the lawsuit’s purpose is to silence Bristol Bay fishermen and prevent them from participating in the US Army Corps of Engineers comment period, which is currently set to end on May 30, by blocking their educational efforts related to the corps’ draft environmental impact statement on the Pebble project.

In a statement issued on April 2, BBRSDA Executive Director Andy Wink said the association is engaging on the Pebble issue “specifically because we are worried about its potential effect on both the abundance and the marketability of our product and the region’s prolific salmon runs.

The vast majority of BBRSDA’s fishermen members consider the Pebble mine to be their number one concern,” Wink said. “All of BBRSDA’s actions are geared towards building abundance and per-pound value and frankly, it’s working very well.”

Wink noted that consumers choose to pay more for wild sockeye salmon “because it’s a healthy, abundant, premium wild salmon species from a pristine and unspoiled environment. It’s a unique resource unlike anything else in the world,” he said. “The Pebble mine could jeopardize that, and at the very least we believe it’s important to engage in the permitting process so that if the mine does proceed, it’s built with adequate safeguards for fishermen, residents and sockeye consumers.

The Alaska House Resources Committee meanwhile is also looking into the corps’ draft EIS, and held a hearing this past week to listen to a presentation from the corps. An audio of that presentation to the legislative committee is available online at

To read the complaint document go to