As July comes to an end and August approaches, the fishing bug hits hard. Each year the masses head down to Chitna or the Kenai in hopes of spending days in chest-waders and evenings enjoying some fresh caught kings. Thousands of commercial fishermen are heading out to catch the peak. Fish camps are going 24/7 and tourists flood in. It’s a yearly ritual, often trumping birthdays or wedding anniversaries. It may sound crazy, but this is Alaska and crazy seems to define our way of life.
As this ritual proves, salmon also defines the way Alaskans live their lives. From food, to culture, to recreation, to our economy, salmon ensures the health of Alaska. Commercial fishing alone provides jobs for some 32,000 Alaskans and around $2 billion in economic activity each year. Subsistence fishers still depend on salmon as a food source, but are finding it harder and harder to catch enough as run numbers decline more and more each year. Salmon are being threatened by harmful environmental regulations and the effects of climate change, and so is the Alaskan way of life.
That is exactly why this November I plan to, and encourage you to as well, vote yes on ballot measure 1 and stand for salmon. Contrary to what you might have heard, ballot measure one doesn’t destroy development in Alaska. In fact, it’s not against development at all. Ballot measure one protects water resources and habitats for anadromous fish, or fish that have spawning runs like salmon. Currently, the definition of “significant adverse effect” is almost nonexistent, meaning that regulations are often too vague to consistently enforce. The ballot measure would help to define this by allowing the Department of Fish and Game to put in place scientific-based limits on the effects a development project can have on a salmon habitat. This means that before a project is started, we will make sure it doesn’t harm salmon, making our development more sustainable. It’s a win-win!
For Alaska’s economy to thrive we need both development and salmon. “Both” is the key word here. Ballot measure one is not just standing for salmon, it is standing for Alaska. Without it, traditional ways of life, popular recreation, tourism and the economy could all be harmed. To ensure a healthy Alaska in the future, I encourage you to vote yes on ballot measure one on November 6th and stand for our fish friends.
Every good wish,
Join Stand for Salmon July 28th at Eklutna Trailrace for a clean-up or August 11th at the Matanuska River Park for Wild Salmon Day!