As it was last year, the commercial salmon fishery south of the Canadian border will be closed in 2009. The cause is not over-fishing, but the failure of young salmon to survive long enough to leave their natal streams and enter the ocean.
“At the very least, there was something fishy about Alaska Governor (and Vice Presidential hopeful) Sarah Palin’s decision to speak out publicly against the state’s Clean Water Initiative late last month. There may also be something blatantly illegal about her advocacy for defeating the ballot initiative, which ultimately failed to pass when 57 percent of Alaskans voted against it.
A bit of background. The Clean Water Initiative (aka Ballot Measure 4) was put in place to restrict the amount of arsenic and other toxic pollutants that new, large-scale mines could dump into the state’s waterways. Its stated goal was to protect human health and safeguard salmon that use the rivers and streams to spawn. More specifically, it was aimed at a massive gold and copper operation called Pebble Mine located directly upstream of Bristol Bay, site of one of the world’s largest and most sustainable wild salmon fisheries, which produced 31 million pounds of king, sockeye, and chum salmon in 2007.