Bristol Bay is special.

Bob Waldrop. Header image by Corey Arnold

Bob Waldrop. Header image by Corey Arnold

Bristol Bay means business. It’s the cornerstone of Alaska’s seafood industry.

62+ million salmon returned in 2018

More than 62.3 million salmon surged up its rivers toward their upstream spawning grounds in 2018 season alone. Scientists who have studied the region credit the vast, wet, undisturbed landscape for the massive salmon run.

It is a cultural cornerstone

Regional subsistence fisheries provide 99 lbs. of salmon per capita. Without that renewable “free” protein, many people could not afford to live in Bristol Bay. Villages around the region are creating jobs and sustainable development opportunities based on the resources of the region, not at the expense of them.

Most valuable commercial salmon fishery in the world

It support over 15,000 American jobs, generates $658 million in total labor income/year, and is worth over $1.5 billion. This will continue if the headwater streams remain intact.

It buoys the entire Alaska seafood industry & pays for itself

Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery creates $14.7 million in revenue for local government entities, more than paying for its costs of management. In 2018, the Bristol Bay region was 48% of Alaska’s total salmon ex-vessel value, and 38% of total number of salmon harvested.

Bob Waldrop

Bob Waldrop

The proposed Pebble mine is uniquely risky.

It comes down to three key factors:


Pebble’s phase-one project currently in federal permitting would destroy at least 80 miles of streams and 3,500 acres of wetlands, though due to lacking data, these numbers are likely to be much larger. Furthermore, the mine plan we see today covers just one eighth of the nearly 11-billion ton deposit, which Pebble has repeatedly suggested it plans to develop.


Pebble is a gold, copper and molybdenum mine. Copper, when unearthed is particularly harmful to salmon. Because it is a very low-grade deposit, Pebble would have to unearth massive amounts of Bristol Bay land to extract a very small amount of minerals, creating large amounts acid-generating waste rock during the mining process that need to be held in perpetuity in earthen dams in Bristol Bay. Any spill or release of the toxic mining waste would be destructive to the fish and wildlife.


The Pebble deposit lies north of Lake Iliamna at the headwaters of the Nushagak and Kvichak Rivers, which are two critical arteries of the Bristol Bay system. It is an extremely wet area, meaning any pollution in one watershed is highly likely to “spread” to the other.

Lake Iliamna by: Paul Nicoletti

Lake Iliamna by: Paul Nicoletti

Pebble’s permit process is being fast-tracked.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), a key step in the process toward Pebble’s most important federal permit, is intended to review potential risk of a project to the region. Though the DEIS document demonstrates massive risk, omissions in the report leave Bristol Bay residents feeling as though the federal government is rushing Pebble mine through at the expense of their jobs and way of life.

The draft does NOT adequately address:

  • impacts from inevitable future expansion.

  • impacts to existing resource-based industries or the subsistence way of life in the region.

  • toxic elements that will be introduced that are harmful to fish.

  • basic questions on how the mine will operate. For instance, Pebble, in phase one alone, will have to manage six times more wastewater than any operating mine, but its plan do not say how it will do so without spill or accident.

Furthermore, the document contains outdated data that makes its assumptions inaccurate.

Pebble and the federal government are asking us to place our bets on a bankrupt Canadian mining company without the best interests of Alaskans in mind. That’s not a bet we’re willing to make.

Mineral development in Bristol Bay should be approached the same way we approach our commercial fisheries: with the strongest standards and science-based permitting. Unfortunately, that’s far from what we’re seeing with Pebble.


Bristol Bay’s existing economy and jobs are thriving and are based on the resource.

Science clearly shows Pebble mine would be trading one industry for another.


Bristol Bay provides 15,000 American, fish-based jobs, and can do so forever - if it is protected.

  • Bristol Bay region: Approximately one-third of all working-age regional residents are directly employed in the industry

  • Alaskan jobs from Bristol Bay fishery = 5,126 annual, forever. Versus Alaskan jobs at Pebble (temporary and at expense of above) = 1,000 (during construction) then 850 during operation

  • Alaska annual income from Bristol Bay fishery = $573 million. Versus Alaska annual income from Pebble (temporary and at expense of above) = $27 million (construction) then $113 million (operation)

  • The jobs that will become available at Pebble mine would be highly specific and skilled labor, creating a transient work force during the various phases of mine operation.

Commercial fishing and outdoor recreation and tourism industry jobs are sustainable, and won’t go away as Pebble’s would when the mine is tapped out or the markets change.

Fish-based jobs will be impacted even without any spill or accident at Pebble.

  • Tourists do not come to Bristol Bay to hear industrial noise and traffic

  • If Pebble goes in, Bristol Bay Sockeye and the entire Alaska Seafood brand will be tarnished. The State of Alaska has invested tens of millions into establishing Alaska as a premium brand in the marketplace based on pristine habitat, sustainability, and high quality - not open-pit mining districts and acid mine drainage. 

BB works!.jpg

Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery is still thriving after 135 years of commercial fishing because it’s managed by science and rigorous regulations. Industry speculation, fantasies, or good intentions are not enough for Bristol Bay.  Take action against Pebble mine today.


Questioning these numbers? Don’t take our word for it:

2018 Bristol Bay fishery economic study: Summary | Full report

Pebble Mine Draft Environmental Impact Statement

  • At Executive Summary p. 28: “In terms of magnitude, non-Alaskan labor would likely be required to fill the anticipated 2,000 construction jobs, potentially as high as 50 percent of hires. It is estimated that during operations, 250 employees would come from surrounding communities, and approximately 600 would be flown to the project area from Anchorage or Kenai, for a total of 850 anticipated jobs.”

  • At p. 4.3-3: Under Alternative 1, the magnitude of the project’s impact on local employment would be an increase of 2,000 direct hire project employees during the construction phase, and 850 during the operations phase.

  • At p. 4.3-8 to 9:

    • Tax Revenue and Other Fiscal Effects: The magnitude and extent of the benefit as estimated by IHS (2013) would be $27 million annually in state taxes (2011) during the construction phase, and an estimated $69 million annually in state corporate taxes during the operations phase. HIS estimates the operations phase would also generate $44 million annually from state mining license taxes.

    • State Royalty Payments: Alaska requires holders of state mining locations to pay a production royalty on all revenues received from minerals produced on state land, per the Production Royalty Law, which applies to all revenues received from minerals produced from a state mining lease (Section 38.05.212). The production royalty is 3 percent of net income generated (ADNR 2015). ... IHS (2013) estimates that magnitude of the benefit would be $21 million annually (2011) in state royalty payments during the operations phase.

    • Borough Severance Taxes: Mining operations are subject to severance taxes on resource extractions in a taxing jurisdiction, which would be the LPB. IHS (2013) estimates that the magnitude and extent of project benefits would be $29 million annually in severance taxes paid to LPB during the operations phase.