I am a fisherman of Bristol Bay. I was raised on bay every summer since 1970. My family has benefited from salmon both commercially and by subsistence use for years.
After the fishing season was over, my family has fished and camped up the Wood-Tikchik lake system and have always enjoyed hunting and putting up fish.
I am amazed by those in other river and lake systems that would choose to not oppose even the possibility of that lifestyle be damaged in any way. Furthermore that there are others that openly support the Pebble Mine knowing that there is a chance that their subsistence way of life could end.
I propose that legislation and regulations be drafted now to designate the protection of land use of those that won’t be directly affected by any damage the mine could impose if there were a spill.
If those that choose not to oppose or openly support the mine want to risk their renewable resource for a non-renewable one, then I want safeguards in place to make sure my rights are protected.
Worse case scenario is that the mine spills toxic waste into the river system an ALL the salmon in the Nushagak River system and the Iliamna Lake system die. That would affect fishing both commercially and subsistence to the point where fish are no longer available for use.
That would impact all the people in those villages in their ability to put salmon and trout in their freezers. It would also impact about 1000 commercial fishing permit holders. Both groups will want fish.
Northern Dynasty has promised a no-net-loss promise as far as salmon goes. Where will those fish come from?
Those that choose to gamble with access to the resource for subsistence use will have to look somewhere for salmon. I want to ensure that the Wood-Tikchik Lakes are protected from the increased need for salmon from over fishing for subsistence use.
Driftnetters from the affected bays that are trying to make a living will need to fish some place. If the only returns are from the Wood River, then the 400 – 600 boats that fish the Nushagak Bay could blow up to 1800 boats.
Let’s think ahead and ensure that those that choose to gamble with their resource aren’t able to destroy resources from another area by over fishing.
Togiak District has successfully devised a management plan to ensure that their salmon returns are protected. I don’t believe it is too soon to at least draft a management plan to protect use rights. It is responsible and will protect sustainability of salmon use both subsistence and commercially.
That being said, the mine is not built. The permits are not submitted and approved. There is time to oppose the mine and choose a renewable resource over a non-renewable one.