Protect Bristol Bay from Offshore Drilling

Alaska’s Bristol Bay and southeast Bering Sea waters encompass one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world, yet pressure to drill for offshore oil and gas has remained a constant threat in the region for decades.

Offshore drilling amid the region’s rich waters would threaten an area that produces 40% of the nation’s wild fish catch as well as resources of cultural importance. Jobs, livelihoods, Alaska Native traditions and communities would be at risk.

The region’s sub-arctic waters support:

  • The world’s largest wild sockeye salmon runs
  • Significant commercial fisheries worth more than $2 billion annually
  • Alaska Native cultures traditionally reliant on salmon and other marine resources
  • Globally important migratory seabird and marine mammal populations, and sensitive coastal habitats

The fate of Bristol Bay was uncertain since pressure to develop the region for offshore oil and gas drilling began in the early 1980s. Over the years, leases have been sold and bought back, and presidential and congressional protections have come and gone. Through the region’s long history of leasing, buybacks and protections won and lost, Bristol Bay has been spared from offshore development, but just barely.

AMCC has successfully worked hand-in-hand with local communities, tribes, members of the seafood industry and conservation groups to bring the economic, ecological, and cultural value of Bristol Bay to national awareness. Bristol Bay is a national treasure. Its world-class fisheries’ and coastal communities’ connections to marine resources are too valuable to risk for potential short-term benefits of offshore drilling.

On December 16, 2014 the Obama Administration announced a landmark decision to withdraw the North Aleutian Basin from the federal Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program in perpetuity! We thank President Obama for recognizing the importance of this region and the life and cultures it supports.

To commemorate the tireless work of the men and women who helped protect this region’s culture and livelihood, Bristol Bay: A Legacy Story was created by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council and Nunamta Aulukestai. This 35 minute film chronicles the decades of work on the part of local residents and communities, tribes, seafood industry, and conservation organizations to protect fisheries and a way of life in Bristol Bay from offshore drilling. This film serves not only as a thank you to all those who have devoted invaluable time and energy to this issue, including the group of organizations, businesses, and communities that came together as the The Fish Basket Coalition, but also as a reminder to future generations who may face similar challenges to their marine resources. This story commemorates the many reasons why Bristol Bay is so valuable to both our local economy and our culture. Watch the trailer below and check out film screenings in your community.

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