FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thousands of Alaskans tell House Fisheries committee to improve sixty year-old salmon habitat protections
April 13, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tim Bristol, Executive Director, SalmonState, 907-321-3291
Emily Anderson, Alaska Director, Wild Salmon Center, 907-830-8473
Mike Wood, Co-Founder, Stand for Salmon, 907-354-5815
Thousands of Alaskans tell House Fisheries committee to improve sixty year-old salmon habitat protections
In opening hearing for the Stand for Salmon Bill (HB 199), sponsor Rep. Louise Stutes calls for deliberative process to shape final bill that works for all Alaskans.
JUNEAU, AK – Salmon advocates spoke out in favor of updating Alaska’s fish habitat protection laws at the opening hearing for the Stand for Salmon Bill (House Bill 199), sponsored by Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak). The bill addresses gaps in Alaska’s current fish habitat permitting system, which many Alaskans argue falls short of protecting wild salmon, a critical element of Alaska’s economy and culture.
“Alaska has a constitutional mandate to make sure fishing and salmon habitat are protected. As the state develops, we need to protect the value of our wild fisheries and all that they provide to our communities,” said Mike Wood, Upper Cook Inlet setnet fisherman and Stand for Salmon co-founder from Chase, AK. “Updating our habitat protection law will help ensure certainty that our healthy fisheries and our local economies can continue to thrive.”
Rep. Stutes stressed the importance of strengthening permitting while ensuring that all industries in Alaska can continue to grow and prosper. And she promised to listen to all Alaskans and carefully account for the impacts of the bill by holding future field hearings.
“This is the beginning of a long conversation,” Rep. Stutes said. “We want to involve all stakeholders and come up with good sustainable product.”
“I want to make clear this is not to put anybody out of business,” she added. “We all have to learn to live together but we have to keep our waters nice and clean.”
More than 7,000 Alaskans submitted written testimony for the opening hearing last night. They cited the need for more transparency in the permitting process for large development projects, as well the need to prioritize responsible state growth that protects habitat for salmon and other important fish species that are core to Alaska’s economy.
The Stand for Salmon Bill proposes updates to Title 16, Alaska’s fish habitat permitting law, which hasn’t been updated in 61 years. The updates proposed would create enforceable fish habitat protection standards and allow greater public input into the permitting process for development projects that may impact fish-bearing streams and rivers.
Stand for Salmon is a group of Alaska-based individuals, businesses and organizations united in taking immediate steps to ensure that Alaska remains the nation's salmon state for generations to come. Learn more at www.standforsalmon.org.