ANCHORAGE, AK – Dozens of businesses and fishing organizations that depend on robust populations of fish and game have submitted an open letter to Alaska’s elected decision makers and voters in support of Ballot Measure 1, known as the “Salmon habitat initiative.”
The letter states that intact salmon habitat is necessary for Alaska business owners, “to feed our families, pay our employees, and help give visitors and residents alike the sporting experiences they’ve come to expect in Alaska.”
Signers contend, if voted into law, the measure will help protect Alaska’s recreation and fish-based businesses, which depend on healthy and productive salmon habitat and account for more than 43,000 jobs and $4.8 billion annually to Alaska’s economy.
“We have long recognized Alaska needs both salmon and development of our state’s natural resources,” said Chris Tobias, owner of Roe Hard Guide Service. “But in order to maintain our salmon, we need to ensure that development is done responsibly and with Alaskan input. This initiative walks the fine line between advancing safe and responsible development in Alaska while also protecting critical fish habitat.”
Using science-based standards for determining whether a development project can be permitted and move forward, along with the opportunity for public input, the initiative also differentiates between projects that deserve rigorous review because they will cause significant impacts to salmon habitat and smaller projects for which the permitting can be streamlined because they will cause little to no impact. If voted into law, the proposed Pebble mine, for example, would be subject to the most stringent permitting requirements while traditional recreational uses would not need a permit at all.
“Better salmon habitat laws are good for fishing, good for business, and good for Alaska,” said Nelli Williams, Trout Unlimited’s Alaska director. “The initiative modernizes Alaska’s salmon laws so we can adequately review and make informed decisions about threatening projects we see today, such as the proposed Pebble mine, that were unimaginable over 50 years ago when our current laws were drafted. I hope voters recognize this initiative has lasting benefits for fisheries and tourism, which are important economic pillars of our state.”
Those agreeing to the letter shared this sentiment. The letter states:
“The undersigned businesses and organizations support strengthening the laws and regulations that guide development in salmon habitat and encourage Alaska voters to voice their support for salmon habitat protection at the ballot box this November. Our laws and regulations must do more to protect habitat, promote responsible development through science-based decision making, and ensure Alaskans have a voice in decisions impacting the future of our salmon streams and wildlife habitat.”
The sport-fishing industry in Alaska supports more than 1,150 businesses, licenses nearly 2,500 Alaskan-resident fishing guides, and hosts more than 450,000 participants annually. Nearly half of Alaska residents purchase a sport fishing license. Tourists visit Alaska to fish, hunt and view wildlife, which creates more than 43,000 jobs and contributes $4.8 billion annually to Alaska’s economy.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. In Alaska, we work with more than 100 angling businesses and thousands of individual sportsmen and women to ensure the state’s trout and salmon resources remain healthy through our local chapters and offices in Anchorage and Juneau. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org and savebristolbay.org. For more information on TU’s stance on the Salmon Habitat Initiative, click here.