DILLINGHAM, AK – In an overwhelming majority, the Alaska Legislature today voted against allowing a member of Pebble’s leadership team to serve on the state fisheries management board, reflecting Alaskans’ widespread and bipartisan support for protecting salmon habitat in Bristol Bay.
Members of the Alaska State House and Senate voted 41-18 to reject Pebble Limited Partnership Director of Regional Affairs Abe Williams’ appointment to Alaska’s Board of Fisheries, sending a clear message that Alaskans are not willing to trade Bristol Bay’s sustainable, world-class fishery for the permanent destruction of our rivers and streams that would result from the proposed Pebble mine.
Williams’ appointment was widely opposed by Bristol Bay residents and Alaskans alike, with nearly 1,000 Alaskans submitting testimony in opposition to Williams’ appointment since Gov. Mike Dunleavy selected him in 2020.
Prior to the legislature’s vote, Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, said he heard an unprecedented amount of opposition to Williams’ appointment from his constituents, including a joint letter from a wide range of Bristol Bay regional organizations opposing Williams’ appointment: Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., Bristol Bay Housing Authority, Bristol Bay Native Association, Bristol Bay Native Corporation and United Tribes of Bristol Bay. Edgmon said William’s role with the Pebble Limited Partnership makes him a polarizing figure in Bristol Bay, and that constituents made clear that Williams’ did not have the trust or relationships necessary in Bristol Bay to serve on the board.
Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, said he didn’t believe Williams’ would best serve the interests of all Alaskans on the board, and was concerned that Williams’ would put Outside interests ahead of Alaskans’ when it came to decisions about fisheries management. “We need to protect Alaska fisheries for Alaskan fishermen,” Hoffman said prior to the vote.
Bristol Bay leaders and organizations celebrated the Legislature’s vote.
UTBB Board President Robert Heyano (commercial fisherman, former Board of Fish member):
“Quyana to the 41 members of the Alaska Legislature who voted against Mr. William’s appointment. Bristol Bay has been clear that we must protect the pristine salmon habitat that produces the world’s greatest wild salmon returns and supports a subsistence way of life for our people. Today we appreciated seeing lawmakers stand with us and support Bristol Bay’s people, clean water and wild salmon.”
CFBB Advisor Robin Samuelsen (commercial fisherman, former Board of Fish member):
“Abe Williams’ work to advance one of the most destructive projects facing salmon habitat in Alaska is clearly at odds with the Board of Fisheries’ charge to sustainably manage the state’s fisheries. I was glad to see the legislature reject his nomination. Today’s vote was a vote against the Pebble Mine. I hope this sends a clear message to Gov. Dunleavy that Alaskans do not want him to continue to promote Pebble at the expense of our communities, fisheries, and cultures in Bristol Bay.”