A few years ago, I was poking around online, following the latest news from Bristol Bay, Alaska. Pebble Mine was big news. For a decade, the Pebble Partnership, a group of foreign-owned mining companies, had been pushing to build North America’s biggest mine in the center of the spawning grounds of the largest sockeye salmon run in the world. Our friends and customers in Bristol Bay fought hard to see their sustainable fishery, valued at $1.5 billion and employing 20,000 people, protected from this terrible idea.
I landed on the Pebble Partnership’s homepage and was met by the image of a man wearing a pair of our bibs. The Grundéns logo was front and center. When I looked closer, I realized that the bibs weren’t even Grundéns — our suspenders had been photoshopped onto our competitor’s bibs. I guess they felt like our suspenders stood for something.
I immediately emailed Pebble Partnership. Within the hour, the photoshopped version of the photo was gone. Over the last two years, I’ve thought about that moment a lot.
I realized that as a company, as people, Grundéns stood for something. The Grundéns name stands for hard work. It stands for family. It stands for fishing. My dad has always understood that. He taught me that. The Pebble Partnership was dressing themselves up in our values even though their actions ran counter to our beliefs.
At that time, Pebble Mine was effectively dead after our community in Bristol Bay, and joined by others, successfully petitioned the EPA to shut down the project. Northern Dynasty, the foreign mining company that led the partnership, had filed suit against the EPA, but their investors had fled.
But Pebble Mine is not dead yet. Over the winter, Northern Dynasty raised nearly $40 million to re-launch the project. This May, the new administrator of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, settled the lawsuit and said the Pebble Partnership could have a second crack at getting their mine permitted. Currently, the EPA is deciding whether to withdraw its 2014 finding to restrict large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed.
It’s time to speak up.
We aren’t red. We aren’t blue. We are fishing. When bad ideas threaten our livelihood, we are going to stand with our community. We may lose a few customers. Some may tell us to stay out of politics, but this issue comes down to common sense. Ripping a hole in the heart of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, a 120-year-old commercial fishing community and threatening 20,000 American jobs is a bad idea. Plain and simple. Bristol Bay, we are in the boat with you.
If that means being accused of being political, so be it. When you know something is wrong and you say nothing, you become complicit in the problem. We think Pebble Mine is a problem.
Pebble Mine? Not in our suspenders.
-Mat Jackson, Grundéns General Manager
Today, you have a chance to weigh in – the EPA public comment period on the Pebble Mine issue is now open until October 8. Please visit SaveBristolBay.org to learn more about this issue and add your voice.
Owner, Fisherman Wildalaskadirect.com