The Highliner read with interest a letter to the editor in today’s Anchorage Daily News and posts it here in case you missed it.
When considering the Pebble mine, look at the Fraser River
The Pebble mine proposed for development in Bristol Bay would be located in the watersheds of the Kvichak and Nushagak rivers – two of the most productive salmon rivers in the world. Mining advocates have argued that this mine would not pose any risk to local salmon populations. The history of the Fraser River, Canada’s most productive salmon system, has repeatedly been cited as evidence that hard-rock mining is entirely compatible with the maintenance of productive salmon populations.
In stark contrast to the messages being communicated by Pebble promoters, salmon populations in the Fraser River have declined dramatically during the last two decades. Annual catches of sockeye salmon that averaged over 60 million pounds in the early 1990s have plummeted to less than 10 percent of those levels since 1999. These declines have occurred despite substantial public investment in state-of-the-art salmon habitat enhancement during the last three decades.
The Fraser River watershed has been developed for a variety of purposes including mining, urban development, agriculture and forestry. Recent climate warming has also stressed salmon populations during their spawning migrations from the ocean. Although the causes for their population declines remain ambiguous, it is clear that Fraser River sockeye are currently in deep trouble. All claims by mining advocates that Fraser River salmon populations are healthy and productive are simply incorrect.
– Dr. Daniel Schindler and Dr. Ray Hilborn
University of Washington