In brief: World Conservation Congress supports Bristol Bay protections

September 9th 3:19 pm | Molly Dischner, The Bristol Bay Times-Dutch Harbor Fisherman

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An international group voted in favor of protecting Bristol Bay from large-scale mining earlier this month.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature Global Congress passed a resolution on Aug. 31 that calls for protections for Bristol Bay.

In addition to generally opposing large-scale mining in the Bay, the resolution calls for the organization and it's members to provide "administrative, technical, scientific, and financial assistance" to Bristol Bay tribes and other local groups working against the mine. It also specifically urges the U.S. government to prevent large-scale mines from receiving permitting.

In a release, United Tribes of Bristol Bay President Robert Heyano wrote that area groups were pleased with the resolution.

"We are honored and grateful the international community agrees that Bristol Bay is worth protecting from large-scale mining," Heyano wrote in the release. "Our watershed and all the life it supports has sustained our indigenous people and our sacred way of life for thousands of years. We are thankful to be home to the last great sockeye salmon run on the planet and as the original stewards of Bristol Bay we continue our fight to protect our lands and waters for not only our future generations, but also for the world — as half of the world's wild sockeye salmon come from Bristol Bay. The global congress voting in support of protecting our region is another important voice in the diverse coalition that recognizes and supports protection of our salmon runs as a global resource."

The resolution refers both to the proposed Pebble Project, and other mining extraction endeavors. It cites both economic and cultural reliance on the area salmon fishery, as well as other species, as reasons why the area should be protected.

The IUCN is an international group that includes government and non-governmental groups from 89 countries, with more than 1,000 members. The global congress is convened every four years.