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JUNEAU – Thursday, commercial fishermen in the Stand for Salmon coalition delivered nearly 200 letters from their colleagues to the State Legislature in support of House Bill 199, the Stand for Salmon Bill. The bill, sponsored by House Fisheries Committee Chair Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak), was reintroduced to the Legislature last week at a hearing that drew a standing-room-only audience.
“Salmon are the icons of Alaska and we are renowned globally for sustainable management of the resource. Fishermen make sacrifices every year to ensure harvesting protects the fish first, and it’s not too much to ask that extractive industries are held to the same standards,” said Art Bloom of Tenakee Springs who will fish his 25th season in Bristol Bay this summer.
HB 199 updates state law governing development in salmon habitat, bolstering protections for salmon – a key player in Alaska’s seafood industry, the largest private-sector employer in the state. Salmon fishing creates more than 32,900 full-time jobs every year in the state, with the seafood industry earning $1.6 billion in annual labor income based on 2013 and 2014 averages, $2.1 billion in total labor income and $5.9 billion in total economic activity.
According to a 2015 report issued by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the seafood industry is one of Alaska’s foundational industries, with seafood income and employment accounting for about 20 percent of Alaska’s basic private sector economy.
“As fishermen, our incomes are directly impacted by water quality, in-stream flow levels, fish passage and other components of healthy salmon habitat. We need science-based standards to protect salmon habitat and encourage responsible development,” the letter to legislators states.
“If our fisheries are well-managed,” it continues, “we will continue to contribute to Alaska’s economy in perpetuity. Providing adequate protection to fish habitat is part of sound management, and is the single most effective way to ensure that this enduring cornerstone of the state’s sustainable economy is not eroded as we seek fiscal solutions in difficult economic times. Please ensure that Alaska’s salmon resources retain their value for generations to come by passing HB 199.”
Stand for Salmon is a diverse group of Alaska-based individuals, businesses, and organizations united in taking immediate steps to ensure that Alaska remains the nation’s salmon state for generations to come. Learn more at www.standforsalmon.org.