Court Mandated Revisions to Bristol Bay Plan Draw Criticism

Commercial and sport fish harvesters and other Bristol Bay
residents dependent on the area’s salmon fisheries are voicing concern over a
revised area management plan that could ease the way for a massive copper, gold
and molybdenum mine.
The document in question is the court-mandated draft
revision of the 2005 Bristol Bay area plan, for which the Alaska Department of
Natural Resources is accepting public comment through April 4.
Following the 90-day public review period, which could
result in changes to the document, the agency intends to adopt the proposed
revisions to the 2005 Bristol Bay Area Plan, which will serve as the basis for
management of state lands and waters within the planning area for the next 20
The mine in question is the Pebble mine, a project managed
by the Pebble Limited Partnership, a joint venture of a Canadian mining
venture, Northern Dynasty, and the London based international mining entity
Anglo American plc. Mining advocates say they can develop and operate the
mining in harmony with the world renowned Bristol Bay wild sockeye salmon run,
which provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to commercial and
sport fisheries entities. The fishery has also been critical to generations of
subsistence fish harvesters, as well as wildlife.
In 2009 Bristol Bay tribes, commercial fishing groups and
Trout Unlimited challenged the 2005 area plan- a revision of the original 1984
plan- in court, arguing that it did not strike a balance that protects
subsistence and fish and wildlife resources.
The original 1984 plan co-classified almost all of the
state-owned land in the region as fish and wildlife habitat-including the
Pebble deposit area- because of the importance of fish and game to resource
users. The proposed revised plan reclassifies the entire 12 million acres,
reduces habitat protection by 94 percent and opens the door for mining on
almost the entire 12 million acres.
Information regarding the 2012 amendment to the Bristol Bay
Area Plan is at
Comments on the amended plan may be sent to:
Ray Burger
Resource Assessment and Development Section
Alaska Department of Natural Resources
550 West 7th Avenue
Suite 1050
Anchorage, Alaska 99501-3579
The deadline is April 4.