Marine mammals ranging from sea otters to sea ducks were discussed on the final day of a science panel put on by The Keystone Center, a company hired by The Pebble Partnership, to review The Pebble Partnership Environmental Baseline Studies.
At the two-day science panel discussion, consultants with Pebble shared the data from the baseline studies and then volunteer panelists with The Keystone Center posed questions.
Dr. Bob Day, Pebble consultant, explained that more then 100 boat, helicopter and fixed winged surveys were conducted in the Northern Kamishak Bay from 2004 to 2008.
"What we saw with the birds is there is a summertime community that's dominated by seabird and there is a wintertime community dominated by sea duckss," Dr. Day said. "For the marine mammals, we have a summertime community dominated by harbor seals and we have a wintertime community dominated by sea otters."
The group focused on a study by the pebble partnership that only reviewed the types and numbers of animals living in the Bristol Bay area and they say they did not draw conclusions about how a mining operation would affect those species.
The Environmental Protection Agency has released its review of possible effects from large scale mining operations in the Bristol Bay region.
Some organizations in opposition to Pebble say that is the study people should be reviewing.
Anders Gustafson with Renewable Resource Coalition says he did not attend the public forum because The Keystone Center is biased due to it's Pebble backing.
"If you're looking at science the EPA watershed just recently released, again for a second round of reviews, I think you're going to see conflicting science reports from the different entities," Gustafson said. "Who are you going to believe? The organization that's been bought and paid for by The Pebble Partnership or the organization that speaks for the people of the United States."
There are no set plans from Pebbble on how its copper mine would operate and when it could possibly begin - leaving the debate open, no matter what report is being reviewed.
Contact Mallory Peebles