PEBBLE FISH REFUGE IS TABLED FOR NOW
Alaska's Board of Fisheries has established a three-person committee to review current protections for fish and habitat in the Bristol Bay region. The Board had considered a proposal to create a fish refuge near the Pebble copper and gold prospect, but chose to study the issue further.
The Board does not have the authority to create a refuge, but it can forward a recommendation to the legislature. A draft bill has been circulated in Juneau to create a game refuge in the area. Opponents consider the proposals as yet another attempt to ultimately block development of minerals in the area.
The specific area proposed for refuge status has been managed for multiple use and open to mineral entry for decades. The Bristol Bay Area Plan, revised in 2005 after lengthy public comment, recognizes the Pebble prospect and notes “the state selected much of the land in the planning area because of its mineral potential.” In fact, the plan states “the general resource management intent for the Pebble Copper area is to accommodate mineral exploration and development and to allow DNR to make specific decisions as to how development may occur, through the authorization process.