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Protect Bristol Bay from Offshore Drilling

by netCorps Technical Support last modified August 14, 2013 04:43 PM

Alaska’s Bristol Bay and the southeastern Bering Sea encompass one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. These sub-arctic waters support:

  • The world's largest sockeye salmon runs.
  • Globally important fisheries worth more than $2 billion annually.
  • World renowned seabird and marine mammal populations.
    Protect Bristol Bay
    Photo: Luke Strickland
  • Traditional Native cultures that rely on subsistence harvest of salmon, other marine and terrestrial species.

But Bristol Bay's economically, ecologically, and culturally important marine resources face unprecedented threats. At the headwaters of the region's salmon-producing rivers, multinational mining giant Anglo American is moving forward with plans to develop what could be the world's largest gold and copper mine. Further south, amid the region's marine waters, oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell are aggressively pressing to open the area to offshore drilling.sockeye_Andrew Hendry.jpg

AMCC has worked hand-in-hand with local communities, Tribes and fishermen for over seven years to tackle the offshore drilling threat.

In March of 2010, President Obama announced that Bristol Bay would be protected from offshore oil and gas development until 2017. This was a tremendous victory for the campaign. This decision halted a lease sale that was moving forward for 2011 and was merely steps away from becoming a reality. The region's rich waters now have temporary protection. But as the long and controversial history of offshore drilling in the region's demonstrates, the drive to open Bristol Bay to harmful development will continue unless a lasting solution is put in place. 

Bristol Bay needs permanent protection from offshore development to ensure that the area isn't again opened for leasing in the future. Through our Bristol Bay program, AMCC is working with a broad coalition of fishing groups, conservation organizations and Native communities to ensure permanent protection for our nation's fish basket.

AMCC strongly supports efforts and collaborates with organizations focused on stopping the Pebble Mine, but remains focused on the offshore drilling threat in marine waters where our organization's programs are centered. Click here for more information on groups tackling the mining threat.

BP's Deepwater Horizon Spill: The Ultimate Wake-up Call for Bristol Bay

Deepwater Horizon sinking (c) US Coast Guard
Photo: US Coast Guard

On April 20, 2010 BP's offshore oil rig, the Deepwater Horizon experienced a deadly blowout. Two days later, it sunk into the Gulf of Mexico. Massive amounts of oil spewed uncontrollably into the ocean, causing immeasurable harm to the Gulf's marine life as well as to the region's fishermen, communities, and local economies. The Deepwater Horizon incident provides a clear example of the dangers of offshore drilling. It also serves as the ultimate wake-up call for Alaska's fish-rich Bristol Bay, which has been a target of the oil industry for more than 30 years and is not yet permanently protected. Read AMCC's publication on the causes and effects of the Gulf oil spill and what it means for Bristol Bay.

Platform_Robert_Visser_sm.jpg Latest News

On March 31, 2010 President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that protections from offshore drilling in Bristol Bay would be reinstated through 2017. This is a huge victory for our Friends of Bristol Bay program, but it does not yet mean that the area is permanently protected from offshore oil and gas development.

Walrus_sm.jpg Top 10 Reasons to Protect Bristol Bay from Offshore Drilling

Bristol Bay’s coastal and marine resources are simply too important to put at risk. Find out what is at stake if offshore oil and gas drilling is allowed in Bristol Bay.

oiled_auklet_Skan_Bay_USFWS.jpg Risks of Oil and Gas Drilling

In addition to oil spills, offshore oil and gas development poses a number of significant risks and potential impacts to fish, crab, marine mammals, seabirds and waterfowl. 

Izembek_sm.jpg History of Protection

Bristol Bay communities won Congressional protection for Bristol Bay in 1989. The ban on drilling in Bristol Bay was lifted in 2007. Visit this page for a timeline of protection.

bb_gillnetter_sm_NOAA.jpg Commercial Fisheries Value

The area targeted for offshore drilling overlaps with fisheries that generate more than $2 billion dollars annually and provide more than 40% of the nation's annual seafood catch.

Maps, Fact Sheets, and More!

Here you will find maps showing the overlap of proposed offshore drilling with important habitat and fishing grounds, downloadable fact sheets, AMCC's public comments and much more.  

Act Now to Restore Protection for Bristol Bay!

You can help!  Please visit our action page for the latest on how you can help to safeguard Bristol Bay.


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