Protecting our salmon

Posted: Monday, March 06, 2000

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Juvenile Salmon Migration Draft Feasibility report/environmental impact statement and the Federal Caucus Conservation of Columbia Basin Fish All-H paper. I'd have to take four years of college to understand what that means.

I do know that this is another attempt by the federal government to reduce Alaskans' harvest of our extremely healthy stocks of salmon. Washington, Oregon, and the federal government need to look no further than two events that have taken place in those states: Dams on the Columbia River and the Bolt Decision, a court ruling by Judge Bolt in the late '70s which allows a 50 percent traditional take of salmon stocks by native tribes on all major rivers in Washington state.

You cannot place gillnets across these rivers from bank to bank all year round, sell the salmon and steelhead commercially and call it a traditional take. In reality this has led to the total collapse of those rivers salmon stocks.

I have personally witnessed this on yearly visits to western Washington since 1972. Salmon runs on the Hoh, Sol-Duc, Bogacial and Quillute Rivers have all but disappeared since implementation of the Bolt decision.

Public meetings on the conservation of Columbia Basin fish will take place on March 6, 7, 8 and 9 in Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau and Petersburg. The purpose of the meetings are, and I quote, to discuss ``the options being considered for recovery.'' What this means is that if a couple of these salmon are incidentally taken in Southeast, the federal government will drastically reduce our take of salmon, including both sport and commercial catches.

I urge all Alaskans to attend these meetings and express your displeasure for being punished for events that have taken place in Washington and Oregon.

Bruce Mielke

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