The American Fisheries Society has revised its policy regarding mining and fossil fuel extraction, citing substantial widespread adverse effects such activities have on ecosystems, people, global climate and un-refunded reclamation costs.
AFS recommended, in a position paper published online recently at www.fisheries.org, substantive changes in how North American governments conduct environmental assessments and permit, monitor and regulate mine and fossil fuel development.
The AFS paper notes that mining and fossil fuel extraction have the potential to significantly alter aquatic ecosystem structure and function. Adverse impacts on water quality, hydrology, physical habitat structure, aquatic biota and fisheries include elimination and contamination of receiving waters, significantly altered algal, macroinvertebrate and fish assemblages and climate change.
The six specific recommendations regarding mining and fossil fuel extraction emphasized concern for the future of the environment.
AFS said that in the wake of a formal environmental impact assessment, the affected public should be involved in deciding whether a mine or well is the most appropriate use of land and water, particularly relative to the need to preserve ecologically and culturally significant areas.
Mine or well development also should be environmentally responsible with regulation, treatment, monitoring and sureties sufficient for protecting the environment in perpetuity, the society said.
The policy revision also said baseline ecological and environmental research and monitoring should be conducted in areas slated for mining and fossil fuel extraction before, during and after development, and that this policy and related research should help inform the process of responsible resource development in these areas.
AFS also urged a formal risk assessment of the cumulative atmospheric, aquatic and oceanic effects of continued fossil fuel extraction and combustion, as well as an assessment of effects of hard rock and aggregate extraction and metals smelting.
The AFS position paper was unanimously approved at the society’s annual business meeting in Portland, Oregon last August and published online in December.
Writers of the paper included David M. Chambers of the Center for Science in Public Participation, Bozeman, MT, and Carol Ann Woody of CSPP in Anchorage. Both have been involved in studies related to the proposed Pebble copper, gold and molybdenum mine in Southwest Alaska, adjacent to the Bristol Bay watershed which is home to the world’s largest run of sockeye salmon.
AFS is the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to strengthening the fisheries profession, advancing fisheries science, and conserving fisheries resources.