The City and Borough of Juneau’s recent community development actions fail to substantiate their statements of supporting the Juneau seafood industry. In addition to creating marine safety hazards for small vessels, their actions will jeopardize approximately 21 million dollars of local spending and jobs held by Juneau residents directly engaged in the Seafood Industry.
Recent actions by the city create an unsafe navigational zone for small marine vessels operating in the downtown harbor, place a major Seafood processor’s future deliveries in question; and will destroy the annual ceremony at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s memorial. All in exchange for replacing the current docks for a larger dock design to increase the number of seasonal cruise ship visitors by another 11,000 over the existing 1,000,000 or so already arriving by cruise ship to Juneau, our community of 30,000 residents.
Despite several alternate designs, the City Assembly and harbor department opted for one that will negatively impact many of its local residents. A conditional use permit was approved at the meeting for final public testimony on June 26th, during the summer salmon season when the majority of Juneau’s fishermen aren’t available to attend.
In 2009, the Juneau Seafood industry production was worth 39 million dollars at first wholesale value of 16 million pounds of product and in 2011 7.3 million pounds of seafood product was delivered at the Taku fisheries dock. Several fishing boats from surrounding communities deliver their catches to these docks too and other local businesses (grocery and hardware stores; fuel docks; transportation companies; etc) depend on the 21 million dollars earned locally by hundreds of Juneau families and fishing businesses.
Of additional concern, when one reviews the years of planning around this project, including the packet provided by the city to the public in the January and June planning commission meetings, there is no mention of the impacts to small marine vessels in their plan or how the city worked with the small vessel fleet operating in the downtown harbor. Not until the January 2012 planning meeting, when the conditional use permit application was tabled due to these safety concerns did the City take any notice of this issue. These concerns still exist and should be taken seriously by City Management, not discarded until the project is too large to change or at the cost of another Juneau industry. The Juneau Seafood Industry is being treated just like the Commercial Fishermen’s memorial – damaged by City projects or management, denied safe access to the waterfront and soon to become an artifact. Can Juneau really afford this type of coastal community management?
Arthur & Linnea Osborne