New Poll Finds Bristol Bay Fishermen Overwhelmingly Opposed to Pebble Mine
Posted August 25, 2011
A new poll shows astonishing opposition to the Pebble Mine, with over 85% of commercial fishers in Bristol Bay opposing the mine. And the fishers are virtually unanimous – 98% – that the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska should be protected. These kind of numbers on any issue of public importance are unprecedented, and they reflect unambiguously the intensifying opposition to the Pebble Mine.
The Bristol Bay fishery supplies roughly 50% of the world's wild sockeye salmon, and tens of millions of salmon return there every year to spawn. But it could all come crashing down if Pebble Mine – a colossal gold and copper mine – is built at the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s famed salmon runs. Pebble Mine would pose a huge risk to salmon, because even minute increases of copper above natural levels in water (2 to 10 parts per billion) have shown to damage the navigational ability of salmon to return to its spawning stream and complete the circle of life.
The new poll, which for the first time focused on the men and women who commercially fish in Bristol Bay, asked them their opinion on Pebble Mine and the risks it poses to salmon. The results leave no room for doubt:
- 85% of Bristol Bay commercial fishers oppose Pebble Mine, including 80% who oppose it strongly.
- 86% agree that Pebble Mine would jeopardize the existing fishing industries in Bristol Bay.
- 83% agree that Pebble Mine will drastically hurt fishing in Bristol Bay.
- 97% are concerned that mining in Alaska will result in destruction of fish habitat and water quality problems.
- 98% believe the headwaters of Bristol Bay should be protected for future generations.
Although proponents of Pebble Mine claim that mining and fish can “coexist,” 77% of Bristol Bay fishers disagree and think that mining and fishing in Bristol Bay are simply incompatible. Eighty percent believe that the mining industry is NOT capable of protecting salmon in Bristol Bay.
Bob Waldrop, director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association and our coalition partner in Alaska summed up the new poll nicely: "Alaskan fishermen simply do not want Pebble Mine. They strongly believe we must protect Bristol Bay and its abundant wild fish. The Pebble project would threaten thousands of good-paying jobs, which are essential to the regional and state economy."
This new poll confirms that the level of opposition to Pebble Mine is growing. Other surveys have documented the overwhelming local opposition to Pebble Mine, finding that over 80% of Bristol Bay residents oppose Pebble Mine and believe that Pebble Mine poses a serious threat to Bristol Bay salmon fishing.
Given the unique consensus of opposition, it’s long past time for the backers of Pebble Mine – Anglo American, Rio Tinto, and Northern Dynasty – to start listening. Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll promised that the company would abandon its plan for Pebble Mine if faced with continued local opposition: “We will not go where communities are against us.”
The people of Bristol Bay have spoken. The numbers are through the roof. The opposition is growing. And the message is clear: No Pebble Mine.
Click here to send a message to Anglo American and join the overwhelming majority of Bristol Bay residents and fishers opposed to Pebble Mine.