Bristol Bay, Alaska, is home to the most productive and valuable salmon fishery in the United States. Producing half of the world’s sockeye, providing 14,000 jobs, and contributing $1.5 billion annually in economic output, it’s a system that illustrates the possibility of sustainable and stable resource extraction. Remote and almost wholly undeveloped, the area supports robust and healthy terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, as well as a strong recreational fishing and tourism economy. It is also home to Alaska Natives – mostly Yup’ik Eskimo, Alutiiq and Athabaskan tribal members – who have been living within, relying upon, and cultivating a relationship with this landscape for more than 10,000 years.
At the same time, there are those who believe different resources in the region – namely gold, copper and molybdenum – could provide a far greater economic return. Located at the headwaters of the two major rivers that flow into Bristol Bay, a massive mineral deposit has caught the eye of two multinational mining companies – Anglo American PLC and Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. The proposed Pebble Mine would require an open pit two to three miles wide and thousands of feet deep, as well as thousands of acres of tailings reservoirs that would hold mining waste in perpetuity.
- Mining in the Bristol Bay watershed, and its potential economic, ecological and social impacts
- Fisheries management, and commercial and subsistence fishing
- Sports fishing, tourism and the recreation economy
- Indigenous sovereignty and resource management
- Salmon ecosystems and the interconnected web of species that depend on them
- Climate change and its impacts on the Bristol Bay region
- Land use and ownership, development, conservation easements, and planning