Letter to the Editor
Salmon Need Our Voice
Thorough, informative letters to the editor across the state regarding Prop. 1 over the last several weeks generated my pledge to vote Yes. Then I attended a Stand for Salmon event in Girdwood with expert speakers, commercial fisherman, recreationalists and neighbors.
Gathering community energized me to share this critical need of support. Fish connect all of us in Alaska – as well as around the globe. We all have interest in Ballot Measure 1. Whether it’s a healthy economy, heritage, filling the freezer, what’s swimming upstream to spawn, or that fish taco in 2021, there are endless ways fish connect us.
Stand for Salmon launched its campaign to defeat HB 77 in 2013 – a bill threatening Alaska citizens’ ability to protect wild salmon. Two years later, fishermen across the state demanded a “clear fish first policy” for Alaska. This request caused a diverse group from the Cook Inlet region to ensure Alaska salmon and its communities, cultures, and economies dependent on them thrive in unity with responsible resource development.
From there, it was up to state decision makers to update Alaska’s 60-year-old law governing development in salmon habitat. The AK Board of Fisheries unanimously supported the recommendations and introduced House Bill 199 in Mar. 2017. While the initiative gained momentum and support, and Legislative leaders tried again to address the issue, HB 199 never made it out of committee.
This impediment is why the Yes for Salmon initiative was signed in. Yes for Salmon exercises our constitutional right to make law via ballot initiative. Tim Troll’s eye-opening Anchorage Daily News article clarified a glaring catch: Since the early days of statehood, “important” waters specified for the survival of anadromous fish are to be protected by AK law under Title 16. According to ADF&G, only a “fraction” of the streams, rivers, and lakes actually used by anadromous species are identified in the Anadromous Waters Atlas Catalog, thus protected by AK law. Prop. 1 has a key provision: Unless a stream is proven otherwise, the presumption is made that most of Alaska’s waters be considered anadromous.
In order to effectively face a new generation of mega-projects in AK, the outdated law needs updating. Limit damage to salmon habitat for future generations by speaking for salmon. Vote Yes on 1.