This winter the state Legislature will consider a bill important to public health and the Alaskan salmon industry. Right now it is legal for private corporations to spray toxic chemicals from airplanes in Alaska. Senate Bill 233 would ban this practice to protect our health and natural resources.
Everyone knows that pesticide drift is dangerous, but in Alaska it may well be our fishermen who are hit hardest. Many of the areas that could be sprayed for forestry purposes are over Southeast Alaska's islands.
These islands are surrounded by waters heavily used by commercial and sport fishermen.
Pesticide runoff into our pristine waters could contaminate the entire catch and risk human health.
Worse, the existing aerial pesticide regulations do not allow for adequate buffers between sprayed areas and salmon streams.
Our fishing industry depends on the American public's perception of Alaska wild salmon as pure and fresh. How will the industry be affected if our fish are contaminated with toxic chemicals?
I urge the Legislature to pass SB 233; in particular, I ask Sen. Fred Dyson to schedule a hearing for this bill in the Health and Social Services Committee.
As a commercial fisherman and chair of this committee, I trust that he understands the importance of this issue.