By: Dorothy Childers, Associate Director
“Consistent with principles of public stewardship entrusted to this office, with due consideration of the importance of Bristol Bay and the North Aleutian Basin Planning Area to subsistence use by Alaska Natives, wildlife, wildlife habitat, and sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries, and to ensure that the unique resources of Bristol Bay remain available for future generations….”
With those words one year ago today President Obama announced a landmark decision to remove the North Aleutian Basin from the federal Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, protecting Bristol Bay and the southeast Bering Sea, the region’s valuable fishing grounds, and world’s largest wild salmon run into the future. This would not have been possible without the ongoing support of members and partners like you who remained dedicated to the cause for over 12 years.
Please join in celebrating the collective victory to protect Bristol Bay by eating some delicious wild salmon and thanking the White House!
Since the 1970s, people dependent on Bristol Bay were frustrated by the uncertainty created by federal administrations’ ever-changing positions on whether or not to lease the fish-rich region of Bristol Bay for offshore oil and gas drilling. Bristol Bay and the southeast Bering Sea represent over 40% of U.S. domestic seafood production valued at more than $2 billion annually – including salmon, king crab, herring, and groundfish. It is a juvenile halibut nursery for the whole North Pacific and therefore important to fishing families statewide.
The call for action came from the seafood companies, working fishermen in Bristol Bay, tribal leaders conservation groups, and thousands of Alaskans who continually carried the torch for protecting Bristol Bay from drilling.
“Over 50 tribal organizations across western Alaska and the Interior, commercial fishermen, seafood companies, and conservation groups who wanted to support the people and the fisheries worked together to promote permanent protection for Bristol Bay,”said Tom Tilden, Chief of the Curyung Tribe. “Working together respectfully and with a single mind – this is how big things get done.”
Watch Bristol Bay: A Legacy Story Online Now
Want to learn more about the fight to protect Bristol Bay from offshore drilling? A Legacy Story, produced by AMCC and Nunamta Aulestai, chronicles the long struggle over decisions about opening Bristol Bay and the southeast Bering Sea to offshore oil and gas drilling. Over many decades, people dependent on the region’s rich marine resources have been undaunted in an effort to protect these waters. 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.
Thank you Mr. President for traveling to Dillingham in September, and for your recognition of the cultural, economic and ecological value of Bristol Bay!
Thank you all for your support. Together our voices reached the White House and resulted in a tremendous victory for our fisheries and coastal communities!