Superior court judge tosses out lawsuit against BBRSDA

An Alaska Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association on grounds that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the BBRSDA’s acts are outside the scope of its powers as a nonprofit corporation.

The case was brought by six Bristol Bay fishermen, funded by the Pebble Limited Partnership, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hunter Dickerson, a diversified Canadian-owned global mining group proposing to build the Pebble mine in the area of the Bristol Bay watershed.

Superior Court Judge Yvonne Lamoureux’s decision said in part that state statutes give some guidance on ways the regional seafood development associations may band together, tax themselves and use those funds to promote the monetary value of seafood products harvested in the region. These include, the judge wrote, promoting the product, investing in infrastructure to preserve or increase the value of seafood, educating the public on the seafood, researching the product, advertising the product, researching markets and cooperating with other entities for quality control measures and commodity standards.

Lamoureux also found that it is not outside the BBRSDA’s power or authority to conduct technical research of a proposed mine which relates to and may affect seafood in the region, to conduct outreach and advocacy on the same, or to participate and encourage others to participate in commenting on the draft environmental impact statement as to the potential effect of the mine on their marketable seafood resource.

Mike Heatwole, a spokesperson for the Pebble Limited Partnership, did not respond to a request for comment on the judge’s decision, but Scott Kendall, an attorney for the BBRSDA, called Lamoureux’s decision “a complete vindication of BBRSDA’s actions. She agreed with us that Pebble’s case was entirely without merit, and now the association can get back to the work of promoting the one-of-a-kind Bristol Bay fishery.”

Tim Bristol, executive director for SalmonState, another defendant in the case, said the judge “found the BBRSDA has a right to not only promote Bristol Bay wild salmon in world markets, but to take steps necessary to protect the integrity of the brand.


“This frivolous lawsuit was a desperate attempt to bully and silence those who are digging for the truth about Pebble’s deeply flawed and highly misleading mine plan,” he said.