Today Cook Inletkeeper released a statement from 58 retired state and federal agency scientists and managers who strongly support the Stand for Salmon Ballot Measure 1. Taken together, these experts have more than 1500 years’ experience managing and overseeing salmon and salmon habitat In Alaska.
“Exxon, Pebble and the other corporations are smothering Alaskans with fear-mongering ads to scare and confuse us,” said Phil Brna, a retired scientist with more than 34 years’ service with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and the U.S Federal Wildlife Service.
“We thought it was important for folks to see that the experts with the on-the-ground experience—not political appointees—strongly believe we must update our broken fish habitat system.”
The Alaska Legislature adopted the Alaska Anadromous Fish Act (also known as “Title 16) shortly after statehood. The law relies on a two word standard – “proper protection” to safeguard salmon habitat in permitting decisions. Yet because state law fails to define “proper protection,” fish habitat decisions are left to the vagaries of interpretation, and subject to political influence by large corporations.
In addition to loose and undefined salmon protection standards, the current law also denies Alaskans their right to receive public notice about proposed fish habitat impacts, and stops them from submitting comments to help shape more-balanced development.
“Under Alaska’s Constitution, we Alaskans own our fish and water resources,” said Rich Gustafson, a retired fisheries biologist with 38 years’ experience with ADF&G. “We have a right and an obligation to protect these resources, but we can’t do it if we don’t even know about proposed permits.”
As the November 6 elections approaches, Alaskans are increasingly under siege from an $11 million dollar ad campaign funded by ExxonMobil, Pebble, ConocoPhillips, Donlin Gold and others.
“The big corporations are trying to buy this election,” said Brna. “We think Alaskans are smarter than that, that’s why we’re urging Alaskans to vote “yes” on Ballot Measure 1.”