Alaska Board of Fisheries members adjourned Tuesday without finalizing a letter they plan to send to the state Legislature asking it to determine if additional protection for Bristol Bay's fisheries is warranted. The board agreed on Saturday to send such a letter after hearing testimony about the pros and cons of creating a new state fish refuge in the Nushagak and Kvichak river drainages, an idea proposed by some opponents of the massive copper and gold Pebble mine prospect.
The proposed mine straddles the headwaters of the two salmon-producing rivers, and it would be encompassed by the proposed refuge. After listening to hours of testimony about the Pebble project and the proposed refuge on Saturday, the board members decided against asking the Legislature to create a refuge. Instead, the members unanimously agreed to send a letter asking legislators to scrutinize whether the state's current fishery protections are adequate.
On Tuesday morning, the board members discussed a draft version of the letter but a couple of them were uncomfortable with its wording, according to fisheries board staff members.
The board agreed to finalize the letter soon, perhaps in the next week or so, said Jim Marcotte, the board's executive director.