Protect Taku River salmon, fishermen

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Taku River is the single largest salmon producing river in Southeast Alaska, with up to two million salmon returning annually. All five species of Pacific salmon return to the Taku River, and it supports the region's largest chinook and coho runs. I am a young, Juneau-based commercial troller, and I depend on the sustainable Taku River salmon runs along with hundreds of other gillnetters, trollers and seiners.

Southeast Alaska fishermen cannot afford to allow the Canadian mining company Redfern Resources to experiment on the Taku River with an untested hoverbarge, amphitrac and shallow draft tug. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is currently reviewing permits for Redfern's transportation plan. If granted, these permits will allow the company to make one round trip daily, year round, hauling fuel and supplies upstream to the Tulsequah Chief Mine in British Columbia, and mine concentrate downstream to Juneau. Redfern, however, has done what I would call very little to research and analyze the impact the operations will have on salmon and salmon habitat.

There is no guarantee Redfern's hoverbarge, amphitrac and shallow draft tug will not cause irreversible harm to salmon habitat. In fact, in a May 2007 memo, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game stated: "This proposal by Redfern Corporation will damage valuable salmon spawning and rearing habitat which will lead to reduced numbers of salmon returning to the Taku River and the coastal waters near Juneau."

The United Fishermen of Alaska are also on record opposing Redfern's current ore barging plan.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game has done a fine job managing Southeast Alaska's salmon fisheries. I am worried, however, that the Department of Natural Resources is not listening to the concerns raised by the Department of Fish and Game. The demand for wild Alaska salmon is on the upswing and we cannot allow a Canadian mining company to jeopardize our region's largest salmon producing river.

Thatcher Brouwer


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