Supermarket, Asset Management Industries Support Bristol Bay Watershed Study

Investors in the supermarket and multi-million dollar asset management industries have come out in support of a federal study to determine what protective measures the federal government should take to protect the Bristol Bay watershed.

The Food Marketing Institute, which represents 26,000 retail food stores and $680 billion in annual revenues, and from Trillium Asset Management, whose investors represent $170 billion in assets, made their position public this past week.

Erik Leiberman, regulatory counsel for FMI, said in a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the Bristol Bay wild sockeye salmon fishery plays an important role in the supply chains of a number of its wholesale and retail members.

Leiberman said his industry’s customers demand wild Alaska salmon and they want to continue to provide it to them. “It is a very important product,” he said.

Jonas Kron, vice president of Trillium Asset Management, said the investment community has a unique perspective to share, “and we think that expressing our opinions to companies and policy makers is a productive use of our position as shareholders.” Trillium, a major independent investment management firm, is devoted to sustainable and responsible investing.
The EPA study now underway will determine whether the agency may use its authority under section 404c of the Clean Water Act to restrict the disposal of mine waste into the waters of Bristol Bay.

Concern over proposed development of the Pebble Mine at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed prompted the commercial fishing industry and Bristol Bay Native Corp. to request the EPA study, to determine whether protective action could be taken under section 404 (C) of the Clean Water Act.

The Pebble Limited Partnership maintains that it can develop the mine in a way that would allow mining activity and the fisheries to co-exist. Commercial, sport and subsistence fish harvesters, as well as several prominent fisheries researchers and biologists, have said the mine would adversely affect spawning streams vital to the world renown Bristol Bay wild salmon fisheries.