A new poll commissioned by an environmental foundation concludes that Bristol Bay commercial fishermen are overwhelmingly opposed to development of the proposed Pebble mine prospect. The poll, released Tuesday, found that 85 percent of the commercial setnetters and drift fishermen surveyed oppose the Pebble mine. And 98 percent believe the headwaters of Bristol Bay should be protected for future generations. The poll was conducted in May by Craciun Research and has a margin of error of just over 5 percent. Some 350, or 10 percent, of Bristol Bay's commercial fishing permit holders were surveyed.
The poll was commissioned by the Alaska Conservation Foundation, which has called Pebble a threat to Bristol Bay's wild salmon. The Pebble deposit straddles the headwaters of streams that feed runs of red salmon, king salmon and rainbow trout.
The poll found that fishermen were divided on whether to put their faith in Alaska's regulatory and permitting process for Pebble. A majority -- 63 percent -- indicated they didn't have faith in the system.
Of the 350 permit holders surveyed, 180 live outside Alaska, 94 live in the Bristol Bay area and 76 live elsewhere in Alaska, according to the poll. None of the groups support the Pebble mine and all were at least somewhat familiar with the project, the poll found.