Fishermen receive support for study on Taku fishery

Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Commercial fishermen won a quick victory at the end of the Legislative session to fund a study on the effects of acid mine drainage from the Tulsequah Chief mine. The mine is located on the Taku River watershed and its salmon fishery.

United Southeast Alaska Gillnetters brought a request for $35,000 to $50,000 to Juneau Rep. Beth Kerttula on April 14 in a letter outlining their concerns. The session ended April 19, the day lawmakers passed the capital budget with a $35,000 appropriation for the study.

"There are serious concerns from fishermen that the acid flow is damaging existing salmon habitat and direct effects on adult salmon, eggs, alevin and smolt," Executive Director Chris Knight wrote in the request to Kerttula.

Knight asked that the state Department of Fish and Game complete the study.

The appropriation has to pass the veto pen of Gov. Sean Parnell, who has another several weeks to make capital budget decisions.

The state is participating in a request to transfer the mine to a new owner, which could restart mining operations.

Regardless of the outcome of the ownership transfer request, Parnell's administration will continue to press for cleanup and remediation, said Cora Campbell, special assistant to the governor.

"The Taku hosts valuable fisheries on both sides of the border and ongoing contamination should not be allowed to continue," she wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.

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