Bristol Bay Overview
Bristol Bay is the eastern-most extension of the Bering Sea, tucked between the body of Alaska’s mainland and the curved arm of the Alaska peninsula.
This broad and shallow body of water 250 miles (400 km) long and 180 miles (290 km) wide supports an abundance of marine life, which in turn has sustained human populations for generations.
Bristol Bay’s Bounty
Today, Alaska natives still fish the same waters as did their ancestors, feeding their families and continuing centuries-old traditions. Bristol Bay’s bounty is also shared by commercial fishermen whose catch represents the single largest source of seafood harvested in the U.S.
The pristine rivers and streams that drain into Bristol Bay produce some of the largest wild salmon runs in the world and wind through some of the best wildlife habitat on Earth. A premier destination for hunting, sport fishing, and wildlife viewing, the Bristol Bay region boasts five national parks and wildlife refuges, and eight state protected areas.
Map of Protected Areas in Bristol Bay
A Natural Treasure at Risk
Many important coastal and terrestrial habitats are protected across the Bristol Bay region. But, the marine life and waters of the bay remain at risk from offshore oil and gas development. Although the Obama administration removed the bay from the Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program in March 2010, that withdrawal is only temporary.
Inevitable risks are associated with offshore oil and gas exploration and development, including catastrophic oil spills. With climate change already placing undue stress on ecosystems, we cannot afford to further compromise Bristol Bay and the important services it provides in the form of jobs, food, and cultural heritage. In order to safeguard Bristol Bay’s incomparable ecological and cultural values for future generations, the only acceptable solution is one that ensures permanent protection.