Keep ears tuned for special interests

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2005

Last year, when Alaskans were distracted by the business of summer, the Murkowski administration proposed new rules to allow toxic pollution in salmon streams.

The proposed rule, to allow "mixing zones" in fish streams, embraces the long-discounted notion that dilution is the solution to pollution.

Alaskans know that markets for wild Alaska salmon depend on clean, healthy and sustainable fish. As a result, hundreds of Alaskans from across the state, including fishing groups, seafood marketers, local governments and Native tribes, strongly opposed this fish protection rollback (concerns raised by state fisheries biologists, however, have been effectively gagged under the Murkowski administration's ham-fisted "one-voice" policy).

But foreign mining corporations need this loophole because they frequently can't meet Alaska's fish-protection standards (just ask Northern Dynasty what it means by "no net loss" of fisheries at its proposed Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay watershed).

So now the governor and Department of Environmental Conservation are sitting on the mixing-zone proposal, and the odds are good this special interest giveaway will resurface again this summer, when legislators cannot respond and when most Alaskans are busy enjoying the bounty of our great state.

So when you're fishing this summer, keep your ear tuned for another run at our fish-protection standards. Because Alaska's fisheries and the families they support are too important to waste on special interest favors.

Bob Shavelson


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