A Legacy Story chronicles the long struggle over decisions about opening Bristol Bay and the southeast Bering Sea to offshore oil and gas drilling. Since the 1970s, people dependent on the region’s rich marine resources have been undaunted in an effort to protect these waters. On December 16, 2014, President Obama announced that the region would be permanently withdrawn from consideration for oil and gas leasing. The federal government agreed that the priority should be placed on sustaining traditional ways of life and the high value commercial fisheries in the region, and that offshore drilling presented risks that were not worth taking.
The story is told from the perspective of those on the front lines – leaders in the region and the seafood industry, past governors and former Interior Department secretaries. By documenting this story, future generations will remember the history, value the enduring effort made to permanently set Bristol Bay and the southeast Bering Sea aside from oil and gas leasing, and be supported in safeguarding the region into the future.
A Legacy Story was created by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council and Nunamta Aulukestai. See the 35 minute documentary film or read the print version.
Read the print version of A Legacy Story:
Alaska’s Bristol Bay and southeast Bering Sea waters encompass one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. Offshore drilling in these rich waters would threaten an area that accounts for 40% of the nation’s wild seafood production as well as livelihoods, Alaska Native traditions and coastal communities.
The region’s sub-arctic waters support:
- The world’s largest wild sockeye salmon run
- 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 1970s. Over the years, as leases were sold and bought back, and presidential and congressional protections were won, lost and reinstated, Bristol Bay has been spared from offshore drilling.
AMCC 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 the connections between coastal communities’ and the region’s rich marine resources are too valuable to risk for potential short-term benefits of offshore drilling.
We thank President Obama for his landmark decision to withdraw the North Aleutian Basin from the federal Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program in perpetuity! We appreciate his recognition of the region’s valuable and renewable fisheries and a way of life for generations of people in Bristol Bay.
- A letter from AMCC Executive Director, Kelly Harrell, about President Obama’s Announcement
- Blog post by Dorothy Childers from the day of President Obama’s announcement
- Bristol Bay – National Treasure at Risk 2012
- Fish Basket Coalition