Unnamed Resolution concerning Oil Exploration in Bristol Bay, Alaska

WHEREAS, oil drilling rigs in Cook Inlet, Alaska, have, since mid-1966 repeatedly spilled oil (75 incidents) that resulted in large-scale mortality of marine life (one spill killed 1800 to 2000 ducks); and

WHEREAS, there is no assurance that oil pollution by such rigs can ever be wholly prevented; and

WHEREAS, the waters of southwestern Bristol Bay in the Bering Sea, and adjacent bays along the Alaska Peninsula, constitute one of the most biologically productive marine areas in the world; and

WHEREAS, several thousand sea otters, fur seals, other marine mammals, and millions of waterfowl (including the entire population of west coast Black Brant and Emperor Goose) and pelagic marine birds and fishes concentrate seasonally in this area; and

WHEREAS, oil spills in this area, even if relatively small and localized, would result in catastrophic population losses to many valuable species; and

WHEREAS, planning has been done and negotiations are now in progress by several oil companies through the Western Oil and Gas Association to erect drilling rigs in the southwestern Bristol Bay area;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Society of Mammalogists requests the Governor of Alaska, and the Secretary of the Interior, to encourage the Western Oil and Gas Association to attempt slant drillings from locations far enough inland to prevent oil pollution of the waters of Bristol Bay and that at no time oil drilling will be undertaken from rigs erected over the waters of Bristol Bay or adjacent bays, small islands and harbors along the Alaska Peninsula; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that drilling in other adjacent areas not be allowed until absolute assurance can be given by the oil companies that spills can be prevented, and that the petroleum products from accidental spills can be quickly and effectively removed before appreciable damage to animal and plant life can occur.