Lawsuit against Bristol Bay fish marketing group dismissed - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, July 15, 2020
HomeThe 907Lawsuit against Bristol Bay fish marketing group dismissed

Lawsuit against Bristol Bay fish marketing group dismissed

The Bristol Bay Six case against Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association has been dismissed.

Alaska Superior Court Judge Yvonne Lamoureux said that the association is within its rights to spend money fighting the Pebble Project, which the association feels could harm the fishery of Bristol Bay.

The six fishermen who had sued had said that BBRSDA was working in areas far from its mission, spending some $250,000 of fishermen’s money on contracts with groups opposing the Pebble Project.

BBRSDA was created by statute to market seafood, but contracted with SalmonState and United Tribes of Bristol Bay, which were actively working against the massive copper and gold mining project proposed for state mining lands in the region. Some fishermen support the mining project and don’t want their funds to be used to oppose it.

According to statute, the BBRSDA was created for:

  • Promotion of seafood and seafood by-products that are harvested in the region and processed for sale;
  • Promotion of improvements to the commercial fishing industry and infrastructure in the seafood development region;
  • Establishment of education, research, advertising, or sales promotion programs for seafood products harvested in the region;
  • Preparation of market research and product development plans for the promotion of seafood and their by-products that are harvested in the region and processed for sale;
  • Cooperation with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and other public or private boards, organizations, or agencies engaged in work or activities similar to the work of the organization, including entering into contracts for joint programs of consumer education, sales promotion, quality control, advertising, and research in the production, processing, or distribution of seafood harvested in the region;
  • Cooperation with commercial fishermen, fishermen’s organizations, seafood processors, the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, the Fisheries Industrial Technology Center, state and federal agencies, and other relevant persons and entities to investigate market reception to new seafood product forms and to develop commodity standards and future markets for seafood products;

BBRDSA said that its anti-Pebble activities fall under the category of “education.”

Judge Lamoureux ruled that the mission is broad enough that it could spend its members’ money to oppose the mining project.

Commercial fishers in Bristol Bay are required to pay BBRDSA 1 percent of their fishing income. The judges decision essentially forces them to pay 1 percent to an organization that is not dedicating 100 percent of its resources to marketing fish, as it was set up to do.

In other news, Northern Dynasty Minerals, which owns the Pebble Project, has signed another right of way agreement with the Alaska Native village corporation Iliamna Natives Limited, to use some of INL lands for construction and operation of transportation infrastructure

Ron Thiessen, Northern Dynasty president and CEO said the agreement will involve the shareholders of INL in a “meaningful way in the future development of the Pebble Project.”

“Not only does today’s announcement demonstrate that the Alaska Native landowners and those who live in closest proximity to the project support the work we are doing to advance Pebble in an environmentally sound and socially responsible manner, it also ensures they will benefit in a meaningful way from the jobs and other economic opportunities associated with the project,” he said.

The Right-of-Way Agreement is the second one the Pebble Partnership has reached with Alaska Native landowners for access to the site for both construction and operation. The first agreement was with Alaska Peninsula Corporation in November.

The agreement with INL gives the Pebble Partnership an alternative ferry landing site and road and utility corridor on the north side of Lake Iliamna, which will give the project some flexibility as it advances toward a final Record of Decision on the federal Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) permitting process next year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the draft environmental impact statement in February and has extended the public comment period until the end of May.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Dunleavy’s conduit for Pebble, read it here folks! The Chamber of Commerce’s certified seal of approval. All those Xtratuf sales and all. Little in the treasury, the obligatory promises of local hire (that won’t happen) etc.

  • It’s pitiful that the local villagers fall for all the Rainbows and Unicorns that Northern Dynasty is promising.

    They have such a crown jewel in their salmon and waters….for people of the area to throw it all away for such empty promises … Northern Dynasty is a paper company. They’d never operated a mine…

  • The left is already screaming again, about pebble. True, there is a huge amount of $$ involved in the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. What’s not being said, is that the huge majority of income derived from that fishery is not Alaskan. It’s outside owners/operators that make the same huge majority of the money, tax free, from the “Place that’s Always Been” commercial fishery in Bristol Bay and leave with said income. Pebble can and must be done with an environmental insight unequaled in Alaska, to protect the fishery resource, no matter who benefits from it. The fish are Alaskan fish, no matter the owner of the income derived from them. The left wants the $$, period. Alaskan citizens and resource development are a “hindsight” to them. Seconded to their dim/socialist agenda and greed, at the “public expense”.

    • BTW,
      That “judge” , Lamoureux, wouldn’t happen to be the same one that nixed the King Cove road to Cold Bay and the offshore, onshore, new oil exploration/drilling, would it?

    • This is not a left/right thing Ben, no matter how you want it to be.
      Sure, many permit holders are no longer Alaskans but if you look at it many North Slope workers and mining employees are not Alaskan residents either. A recent study of mining employees in SE Alaska showed that 47% of them resided outside Alaska.
      Of course even the Alaskan residents are also collecting “tax free” money, so at the present there is really no difference between those residents and non-residents.

      • The difference between resident and non-resident workers is huge. One is here to make money and take that money out of the state, the other is here to make a living and support the economy of the state. One has an interest in protecting only their income source, the other has an interest in the entire economy of the state.

        • You may believe that Steve-O but frankly those living here do require expenses beyond those living outside (schools, other infrastructure).
          Back in the late 70s Jay Hammond was reluctant to create jobs for folks intending to live here and thus paid for consultants from outside to study projects because they would leave as soon as study was completed. Of course, at that time, it was still hoped by Hammond and others that our PFDs would be based on longevity (rather than how they shook out).
          I do believe that those Alaskan residents are interested in good schools for their kids, but on the other hand, you and some others are only interested in cutting education ( to get their hands on a full PFD). I question your theory about you (in particular) are interested in the entire economy of the State.

          • Bill,

            Where did I ever say that I was only interested in cutting education to get my hands on a full pfd? You sure have a tendency to read things that aren’t there and make stuff up to suite your argument. And by all means feel free to question whatever you want, just don’t falsely attribute points of view to me. You can question my interest in the overall economy of this state all you want, but spending money we don’t have and blocking projects that will grow the economy will only result in imploding the economy. I fully understand that you want to protect fellow commercial fisherman and their revenue source, but some of us think that fishermen and miners can both contribute to our state economy and the economy of Seattle as well.

          • Actually Steve-O, I’m for an income tax to collect from non-residents (fishermen, miners and slope workers). Further, my tax would credit every resident the amount of PFD that was reduced by Legislature from the statutory amount.
            This would mean that few residents would pay any tax and non-residents would be free to move here to get their own PFDs. I don’t expect this to be welcomed by our fat-cats but the little guy has been on the hook for more than their share for three years now and time for them to belly-up.

  • APC and INL agreements with PLP give them hiring preference. Looks like BBNC members will be on the B or C list. Would be a fitting result for their opposition.
    Not only does Seattle have the lion’s share of Alaska’s fisheries, but also of shipping to Alaska. An Alaska based shipper could get a 5% bid preference from the state. Even more if many of it’s employees were handicapped and/or veteran.

  • There are two families that are on the ND payroll and they heavily influence the small number of people from the Iliamna and Alaska peninsula corps … the Anelon’s and Agnasans ….. this is all self serving on their part. As soon as they can they would become citizens that leave the Great Land,
    The Truth is Pebble is a Job Killer….
    ND is in this to make money on this plan, sell it to someone who has some money and they’ll be gone like the wind…… it’s what they do, they have never operated a mine nor do they plan on it.
    People of Alaska overwhelmingly are against this Mine… this is a fact Ben…… it won’t turn a shovel of dirt and we’ll all be better off with having a healthy thriving Bristol Bay watershed supporting the people who live there and work there…..

    • Stand4Salmon lost 2 to 1. That’s the latest reliable “poll”. The other polls had such loaded questions that they were beyond a 60% error factor.
      NDM is an exploration company – what part of exploration company is so hard to understand? Their plan has always been to find and sell. That’s how they, and many other exploration companies make a living. You’re not revealing any hidden secrets, you’re just making sour grapes.
      Be concerned about the track record of whichever major mining company buys Pebble.

  • The two largest mining companies in the world gave their claims back and left after investing 580 million dollars…
    Now there is the real poll that doesn’t lie……

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