Author Archive

Tomorrow’s Fish Market Choices: Halibut? Trout? Wild Salmon? How ‘bout a Nice Fillet of Genetically Engineered AquaAdvantage®?

June 30, 2010

Jun 30, 2010

Many of us would agree that the science unit about salmon life cycles in elementary school was pretty intriguing.

We were struggling to understand life, death and where babies come from then, and here’s a creature that knows just when it’s supposed to leave the freshwater home of its birth and swim away to experience life in the big ocean, then struggle to swim back home, make babies and die. Cool.

We learned in later lessons that this homing instinct can be traced to the prehistoric-looking fish’s relatives in the Salmonidae family whose fossil “fin prints” can be traced to Driftwood Creek, British Columbia, during the Eocine epoch, about 45 million years ago. Hardy creatures!

Fast forward a few million years, and salmon are still swimming upstream. Humans have now evolved and are harvesting salmon from the streams in summer to sustain them through the winter. This continues for thousands of years.

Fast forward again. In the second half of the 20th century, people get greedy. The “take what you need and leave the rest” philosophy of the first peoples was replaced with a “take all the fish you can sell for the most money out of a big net and leave everything else in your catch to die” approach.

Today, huge floating pollock processing factory ships trawl the Bering Sea and leave a trail of dying salmon in their wake.

Bycatch combined with natural causes has seriously affected Alaska’s salmon fishery.  People dependent upon a healthy salmon fishery, both subsistence and commercial,  increasingly face limited fishing openings .

That’s the salmon story in Alaska today.  In the lower 48 states, rivers were over-fished or streams dammed, preventing fish from returning to their spawning grounds. Currently, many salmon fisheries are suffering.

What do we do? Do we implement sound environmental and biological science to stop the damage to the salmon fisheries and restore healthy levels of salmon returns to the natural habitats?

Not quite. We do a salmon makeover…


Genetically Altered Salmon Get Closer to the Table

The Food and Drug Administration is seriously considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal that people would eat — salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate.

In other words, we are considering allowing a profit-making company to alter the genetics of a species that’s done pretty well all by itself, evolving through the eons, so it can be profitably farmed in pens.

Here’s the mission that Aqua Bounty, the biotech company poised to bring “muscle salmon” to our tables, has embarked on:

Our mission is to play a significant part in “The Blue Revolution” – bringing together biological sciences and molecular technology to enable an aquaculture industry capable of large-scale, efficient, and environmentally sustainable production of high quality seafood. Increased growth rates, enhanced resistance to disease, better food-conversion rates, manageable breeding cycles, and more efficient use of aquatic production systems are all important components of sustainable aquaculture industry of the future.

These genetically modified salmon will have no freedom to swim in the ocean until instinct calls and no final journey to native breeding grounds. They will be soulless, genetic, material on our plate. Tasteless.

And what if genetically modified salmon escape and run amuck in the natural habitats as has often happened in aquaculture?

According to an excerpt from an article in The Economist, that’s not a problem:

Aqua Bounty is addressing such concerns by subjecting developing eggs to high pressures. This alters their complement of chromosomes, giving them three sets per cell instead of the usual two. Such “triploid” fish are perfectly viable, but they are sterile.

If you believe that these genetically modified fish might escape from aquaculture pens and NOT have a negative impact on the resident native fish population, here’s the skinny from Scientific American.

The study, published online today by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved growth hormone (GH) transgenic coho salmon, which have greater appetites and can grow up to seven times bigger than wild cohos. Robert H. Devlin of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and his colleagues divided their fish into three separate groups containing either all GH animals, all nontransgenic ones, or an equal mixture of the two. To examine the competition between the two types, the researchers varied the amount of food supplied to the fish.

The team found that all the salmon thrived as long as there was enough food to go around. Faced with food shortages, however, GH individuals in the mixed group outcompeted their wild tankmates, growing larger than both those fish and the ones living in GH-only groups; and the wild salmon in the mixed group exhibited reduced growth as compared to members of the wild salmon-only group. Furthermore, survival rates were significantly reduced in those tanks holding GH salmon–sometimes to the point of extinction. Some of the dead fish appeared to have died from attacks by other fish, and there were several instances of cannibalism. The fish that survived in these tanks were usually the most aggressive GH fish. Individuals in the wild salmon-only groups fared far better, experiencing a constant increase in population biomass over the 14-week period of low rations.

This blog was started to bring awareness to a food vs. fuel crisis facing rural Alaskans in 2009.  However, today our scope has broadened. The health of the salmon fishery in rural Alaska is now another important topic of our interest. Contributor Victoria, a commercial fisher of Alaskan Wild Salmon and a concerned Alaskan, has attended North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) meetings and spoken out for lower bycatch numbers. We are all now beginning to understand some of the issues of the bycatch problem.

Besides the food/fuel crisis of the recent past, and the lower bycatch/overfishing issues of the present, the proposal of future genetic modification of salmon adds a new, even more disturbing, layer of concern for the salmon industry, as well as the public at large.  A company located far from Alaska is proposing to introduce a new product to the global market that will compete with commercial wild salmon fisheries in far-ranging areas, including the independent commercial fishermen of rural Alaska, and replace their natural, wild caught salmon with laboratory-enhanced seafood.

A threat exists and has not been disproven that escaped genetically modified salmon will endanger native species.We’re not yet at the point where oil and toxic dispersants similar to the ones resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Spill in the Gulf of Mexico have polluted the world’s oceans beyond repair, thus making necessary a land-based aquaculture infrastructure to replace fresh seafood as a means of survival.

This is just another corporate grab at doing something bigger and faster than nature intended. Additionally, it will impact traditional fisheries by driving down demand for wild salmon and potentially harming the genetic structure of a fish that has been evolving for 45 million years. Aqua Bounty claims the chance that fertile salmon might escape and damage salmon stock is remote.

Only a small, sequestered breeding stock is allowed to remain diploid.

BP assured government agencies that every precaution would be taken to prevent oil spills from its deepwater wells and that any accidental spill could be contained using fail-safe measures.  BP also promised that any potential offshore leak would be never make it to the shore.

Let’s hope the Food and Drug administration does more than take Aqua Bounty’s word as fact.

Eagle Village Update: Renewable Energy to Power a Renewed Community

June 23, 2010

Jun 23, 2010

Last year Eagle Village, on Alaska’s Yukon River, was devastated by a spring flood that swept massive blocks of river ice through the historic town destroying all homes and businesses in its path. The damage was devastating.

We watched as FEMA responded ably and quickly and volunteers from around the world pitched in to successfully build new homes for residents whose lives had been washed away. Everyone was buttoned up tightly by winter – a proud ending to a tragic chapter of Eagle Village’s history.

Now a new chapter in the history of Eagle Village is beginning.

Alaska Power & Telephone Company (AP&T) is poised to take an historic plunge in the Yukon River near the towns of Eagle and Eagle Village this week with the cutting-edge deployment of Alaska’s first 25-kilowatt low-impact hydrokinetic river turbine. The first of its type to be placed into commercial service, the in-stream turbine, manufactured by New Energy Corp., is a 4-blade vertical axis unit mounted on a floating platform. The slow-spinning turbine (22 rpm max) produces no emissions, requires no dam and poses very little risk to marine life


With the help of 3.2 million dollars in grant funding from the Denali Commission of Alaska, the native town of Eagle Village will likely become the first in America to become powered solely by a renewable river-turbine hydrokinetic energy source.

The project is interesting in itself but the fact that Eagle Village, in a remote area off the road system for most of the year, is set to become the poster child for utilizing renewable energy, and from the currents of a river that took so much from it, will be an interesting story to follow.

Much better to harness the renewable energy of our rivers and oceans than to endanger them in the quest to capitalize on the finite resources beneath them.

Resource Extraction: The Cost to Humanity

June 6, 2010

Two Alaska Native women clean salmon along shore;
behind them a man uses a gaff to unload salmon from a skiff;
buildings along shore in background (Alaska’s Digital Archives)

Jun 6, 2010

For weeks we’ve been watching millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.  Attempts to fix this man-made disaster that is threatening the lives and lifestyles of a number of species – from photo plankton right up to human beings who live along the Gulf’s shores and depend upon its abundant resources for survival – have been eye-opening.

Self regulation, lack of oversight, profits over people and greed led to this disaster.

How different is this from the situation of the first people of Alaska who rely on an unspoiled food chain to survive as they have for generations? Not very!

In Bristol Bay, big money is hoping to exploit minerals on the very edge of a healthy salmon fishery.  A man-made disaster stemming from pollution from the proposed Pebble Mining project would forever change the lifestyle of the people who depend on a healthy Bristol Bay for their livelihood.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that a study published this week in the science journal Nature by University of Washington biologists highlights the ability of salmon to adapt to natural changes to their environment.

The study said that although they’re all the same species, Bristol Bay sockeye comprise hundreds of populations, each adapted to its own river, stream or tributary. Some of the populations return from the sea after one year. Others spend two years foraging in the ocean before heading back to spawn. Some sockeye flourish when it’s cold and wet. Others do better in hot, dry years.

That variety means the species as a whole survives and thrives, even when bad weather or a shortage of food in the ocean hammers individual populations.

This diversity even helps them survive man-made spills…

After the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, pink salmon that spawned near the shore were devastated by oil that smothered their eggs. But pinks that laid their eggs farther upstream escaped the toxic effect and were able to help the species rebound.

The pink salmon were lucky. The Exxon Valdez was a finite disaster and attempts to reverse its life-changing effects began immediately. People were eventually compensated for their loss.

But what about the ongoing damage being done to the chinook salmon fishery by the pollock trawlers? Will salmon returning to the Yukon-Kuskoquim watershed  be able to adapt and survive as their numbers are depleted year after year as bycatch of the pollock industry? If not, should the companies that have caused the loss of livelihood  for the people of the YK be expected to compensate fishermen for their loss?

This is a matter of balance. The  six CDQ non-profits benefit greatly from the pollock industry and the people of the YK  are shareholders of their particular CDQ, Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Assoc. (YDFDA) They have a stake in their non-profits being successful as they are charged to help economic growth in their member villages. Where does this trade off when you give up the fish for ‘economic development’ ? We have to believe the return of the salmon to their rivers is much more important to them than a paycheck from some ‘development’ project. Fishing is their way of life – it’s what they do.

Taking away their reason to get up in the morning, to make sure their boats and nets are ready in the spring, to follow the seasonal openings so they can fish every allowable minute, to prepare and store the fish for winter – they live to fish. What if the chinook can’t adapt and this way of life is taken away?

Resources that support the lives and lifestyles of our fellow human beings have been placed in a position where an accident caused by lack of industry or government regulation can destroy entire ecosystems. The ongoing exploitation of one resource in favor of another may be slowly destroying an ancient way of life.

We can’t take the risk Pebble Mine would bring to the healthy fishery in Bristol Bay and we must stop the damage the pollock industry is doing to the people of the Yukon-Kuskoquim watershed.

The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has opened our eyes to how little government or industry oversight is in place in  resource extraction.

We need to hold industry accountable and limit their access to resources that belong to the people, especially if extracting them threatens the lifestyle of  people fishing the ancestral waters in which they swim and living on the land they rest beneath.

NPFMC to host Council Coordination Committee in Anchorage in May

April 23, 2010
Standing, left to right: Denby Lloyd, Sam Cotten, Roy Hyder, Dave Benson, Doug Mecum, Mike Cerne, John Henderschedt, Bill Tweit.  Seated, left to right:  Duncan Fields, Dan Hull, Dave Hanson, Eric Olson, Nicole Ricci, Ed Dersham, and Lisa Ragone.

Apr 23, 2010

From Groundswell Fisheries Movement:

Alaska regional fish council to host coordination committee May 17-21, 2010

Posted by Stephen Taufen on Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is going to host all of the nation’s regional fishery management council’s leaders in Anchorage from May 17-21, 2010.  The Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act established the Council Coordination Committee (CCC) which holds two annual meetings, one hosted by a RFMC (regional fishery management council).  We haven’t seen any public notification of this meeting and the clock is ticking…

Apparently public oral and written comments may be allowed…. so stay tuned.  NOAA is required to give adequate public notice, as well.

The CCC’s May 17-21 Anchorage meeting agenda is not yet available.  It is expected that Director Jane Lubchenco and other top NOAA officials and guests will be present, along with council and other muckety mucks.

Read the post here.

We also looked for the agenda and call for comments and haven’t had any luck. We will update this thread as more information becomes available to the public.

More and More Chicks in Rural Alaska!

April 16, 2010

Apr 16, 2010

Remember last May when Victoria received a shipment of baby chicks?

Between something delaying my chicks from getting in the mail until after our mail plane already left yesterday, bad weather this morning – snowing and fog, and then the normal airline red tape, my poor baby chicks got here about a day late.

I had 19 DOA and one more expired a bit later. I THINK I brought about 10 back from near death, won’t know for sure until tomorrow or next day.

I was reminded of this entry after reading a post over at the Tundra Chicks blog. Saima talks about a box of chicks she received awhile back from Triple D Farms which piqued my curiosity. Could something as simple as a box of baby chicks make a difference in a rural community?

Triple D Farms not only ships many breeds of chicks throughout rural Alaska, they also ship just-hatched turkeys, geese, ducks and peacocks.

According to Mother Earth News:

Right before hatching, chicks and other baby poultry absorb the last of the yolk — their food source during incubation. For most species, this last bit of yolk provides enough nutrition to sustain the baby for about three days without eating or drinking, which makes shipping chicks through the mail possible, if they arrive quickly.

And how common are chickens in rural Alaska? The Village Rural Blog at the Anchorage Daily News asked that last October and here are some comments:


wrote on 10/06/2009 08:26:39 AM:

(snip) As for it being common, my grandmother’s sister has about 5 chickens that she keeps in a coop in the summer and her garage in the winter. I have 14. I think the Iten’s have a dozen or so in camp… Its becoming pretty common probably because of the rising grocery prices here in Kotz. The chickens that I have haven’t started laying eggs yet but they are coming on 20 weeks pretty fast and that is when they usually start to lay. I’m going to provide them with a light all winter so they can become seasoned layers by the spring. I plan on getting a couple of turkeys next spring to raise until the fall, we’ll see how that goes. Anyway I’ll try to get some pictures to you this week. Thanks for posting this.


wrote on 10/05/2009 03:20:21 PM:

The mayor in Grayling (on the yukon) has been raising chickens for about 6 years now. The Grayling school also started raising a different group of chickens last year. Its nice to have fresh eggs for a much cheaper price… the chickens are fairly easy to care for.


wrote on 10/04/2009 11:19:39 PM:)

Igiugig, a small community on Lake Iliamna, has chickens too.

We heard about the last one from Vic after she returned from the sustainable gardening conference in March:

We then heard about Igiugig, in the northern part of Bristol Bay with about 60 people in the winter. This village serves a number of lodges and outside visitors in the summer. They have also been working on becoming sustainable for years in some pretty ground breaking ways.

They have a community food scraps for eggs program. Residents bring food scraps to a central location and in exchange are able to get fresh eggs from a community flock of chickens.

Chickens will never replace salmon in the kitchens of rural Alaska but their eggs could be an affordable supplement to the diets of many village residents. Flocks of chickens could translate into cash-based egg and poultry businesses as we follow the  trend to eat locally.

We would like to hear from people who raise chickens in rural Alaska and other similar climates. What areas are best suited, what are the best breeds? How would a village get started such as Igiugig did?

Additional reading

We don’t like to get political here but for people who no longer consider Sarah Palin a politician, hop over to Tundra Chicks and read about Sarah Palin, the bossy white chicken…

So here’s Sarah Palin, she’s white, she’s proud of being white, and she lets everyone know that she’s the only white momma in the chicken house!

Here you see Miss Palin snacking on her favorite treat, popcorn. If another chicken comes into eyesight of her treat she will scream and peck until they leave her pile alone. Yeah, she’s my most bossiest chicken momma yet.

Coincidentally, chicken Sarah Palin came from the very same Double D Farm that hosted the real Sarah Palin’s Turkey pardoning.

~ Jane

Become an Anonymous Blogger!!

April 15, 2010

Apr 15, 2010

Last year we concentrated on life in two areas, the  lower Yukon and Bristol Bay. Going forward we are expanding our scope and hope to hear from people from all parts of bush Alaska. It’s hard for people on the outside to understand how different life in the bush is. We all got a glimpse of it last winter and it was eye-opening.

If you live in bush Alaska and would like to become an anonymous blogger or you are passionate about rural issues and have knowledge to share, please consider becoming a contributor to this blog.

If you are a blogger and post something that would be of interest to our readers, let’s cross post. Photographs are always welcome and sometimes tell stories that words can’t.

We support positive discussion and allow respectful opposing views. We don’t tolerate narrow, closed-minded opinions and moderate the comments closely.

If you would like to join us in our effort to bring rural issues that affect your life or your community or you feel you have something to say that could make life better for those living in a remote corner of our planet, please let us know.

This blog was started with the purpose of bringing attention to the progress and the plight that  rural Alaskans face.

If you can help us moving forward, you are welcome here.


We apologize to our subscribers for the number of emails you received today. There was no other way to restore some damaged pages and we felt their inclusion was important in maintaining the continuity of the blog for new readers.

We have replaced missing photos where we could but many were unrecoverable so we have tried to remove links to all of them. If you run across broken links we missed, please drop us a line. Also, some pages were highly pictorial and lost their value without photos. They have been deleted.

Ann Strongheart Leaves Anonymous Bloggers

April 14, 2010

Apr 14, 2010

Ann’s life has taken some sudden new turns. We don’t have many details, but she has chosen to leave Anonymous Bloggers to pursue other interests — a new life, a new love, a new home. We know this comes as a bit of a surprise to you as it has to us.  However, we have revisited our goals for the work we set out to do, and we continue to move forward with our mission of starting conversations about life and issues in rural Alaska.

To our subscribers:

You will be receiving emails of repaired posts that had been damaged. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Why do we do this?

April 12, 2010

Apr 12, 2010

We learned much about life in Nunam Iqua last winter during the fuel/food crisis. Here’s a look at a side of the village that is not pretty but only by discussing solutions will life in bush Alaska ever change.

Alaska Pi addressed it thoughtfully at Her post is reprinted here with permission.


An important story hit the news this week, first in the Tundra Drums, then in the rural blog at the ADN.

Staff quits Nunam clinic; officials scramble to find solution


The employees at a Southwest Alaska village clinic are quitting, citing a lack of local police that makes their job potentially dangerous and exposes them to harassment from fellow villagers.


The Juneau Empire and Associated Press have picked it up.

Information about what is going on in the bush is sparse and often lacking context. This story , as reported in both original venues, is more well rounded and in context than is the norm.

The comments on the ADN story took the usual turn … right away.

Important facts and issues in the story took an immediate backseat or were forgotten in the stampede to spout off about village life, Alaska Natives, Native corporations, big and samll…

Aside from the lack of knowledge displayed by so many commenting there ( yikes- those folks are my neighbors too !) the utter disregard for the issues facing Nunam Iqua, the health clinic there, the VPSO program as it really works was astounding.

The articles , right away,  set me to thinking about my community and what we do and what we expect :

In my community first responders, EMTs, are accompanied/met by police officers who secure unsafe  situations so that medical folks can do their job.

In my community bullies and ne’er-do-wells are brought to task when they try to shove others around…

In my community harassing health care workers would bring the whole town down around the ears of the harasser(s)…

Nunam Iqua has a long way to go to come together as a community,  picking up and making it’s way into the future, but simplistic responses to these troubles won’t get them there…

Not within Nunam nor without…

Nor will ignoring the problems there , willfully or by default,  advance Alaska as a larger community.

Not within Nunam nor without…

Far too often villages stay quiet about problems  simply because of all the horsepunky which crops up immediately like the move-who-cares-you-all-drink- gobbbeldy gook  spouted off at the ADN.

If we are going to get real about solving domestic violence and related unacceptable behavior , we are going to have to get real about our attitudes…

All of us…

While solutions must start in the community, it must gain the  will to face it’s own problems, they must be solidified by the larger community with  the kind of framework and infrastructure  which supports the rest of us in our quests for safe communities.

So, why do we do we always seem to derail off into the ozone  when stories like this appear?

To the point of forgetting what the point even is…?

Why do we do this?

Sustainable Gardening: Village Success Stories

April 5, 2010

Apr 5, 2010

It has been an interesting March and very early start of April. Not sure where the last month went but as it seems we are sliding into the final days of what I always USED to think of as spring, my head it planning for things in the ground. The gardener/farmer never leaves the soul!

The Fairbanks Agriculture conferences were even MORE fantastic, sorry I know that’s not the best use of English!, than it was last year.!!

I then was able to take a little time to head south to the lower 48 to see dashes of spring, much needed and absolutely heaven!! It has been a great way to end the month and start a new one.

What was also nice is I got a chance to defuse some, absorb what all I had seen and learned the previous week, then on top of that, get to do more ‘research’ into another area’s agriculture.

Now to roll all of that into some planned thoughts and hopefully future action.

To see the effort that goes into making agriculture an industry in Alaska is amazing. So many people working to further the residents and businesses of the state getting good fresh products continues to amaze me. Everything from putting together more and better CSA’s to seeing if we can form a statewide organization to serve various needs of the industry is great to see.

We saw so much effort being put into food being grown in places such as Galena, off the road system, Igiugig, a tiny Bristol Bay village, and even rainy places such as Skagway.

Galena shared how they were excited to hear last year that they should be able to get a high tunnel, similar to a greenhouse but without heat, delivered into Alaska at a reasonable cost of $1200. This had happened in other areas in Alaska and this gave them some hope. You see Galena has been on this sustainable food ‘kick’ for a few years already.

They hold a food fair in the late summer, help each other learn new ways to garden and are getting more and more of their own villagers involved each year.

Well it seems that this is the story on the high tunnel….

High tunnel (freight included) to Alaska …..$1200
Highway built so high tunnel can be ‘delivered’ …..$2.3 billion
Desire to have fresh local grown food…..priceless

To say that we ALL laughed and many understood first hand would have been an understatement!

Soooo they dug in and went to work salvaging anything and everything they could to help put up small cold frames and sheltered areas and getting still more people involved. We were shown pictures of 5 gal buckets with potatoes growing in them, windowsills filled with starts of things like tomatoes. This village that is northwest of Anchorage, off the road system, in a growing zone of 2, I believe. The roughly 600 people there are putting a large value on growing as much of their own food as possible. This might mean a bucket of potatoes or a full sized garden, but producing food none the less.

We then heard about Igiugig, in the northern part of Bristol Bay with about 60 people in the winter. This village serves a number of lodges and outside visitors in the summer. They have also been working on becoming sustainable for years in some pretty ground breaking ways.

They have a community food scraps for eggs program. Residents bring food scraps to a central location and in exchange are able to get fresh eggs from a community flock of chickens.

The community had gotten a small grant to help start a greenhouse, acquire some low tech garden machinery and other technical help to assist them in increasing their current food production. The village had been growing things like potatoes as a staple for some time to help subsidize villagers subsistence efforts.

They were able to increase their food growing knowledge, potato production and other needed skills to move forward toward still more sustainability with the help of a visiting extension agent.

Although their first attempt at constructing and running a small greenhouse ended when they got close to a full week or 50+mph winds that blew the structure all over the tundra they have not given up.

They are back at it this year with a structure to withstand the winds better and I believe bigger still. I will be watching to see how they do.

What all the communities have in common is that the effort is happening from the ground up. People want to have a hand more in the furnishing of their own food. Part of it comes from the economics of it but also the increased variety we can get by growing some of our own.

After a packed week I headed to the lower 48 for some R&R. Of course laced with just relaxing I got in a time for a bead and then needlework shop visit.

More importantly a great local neighborhood farmers market, time on the water front browsing vendor booths and peeking in on a cheese making facility. (I laugh at myself each time I get near a cheese making facility. When I was attending university there is NO WAY you would get me into food processing and especially cheese processing. At that time it was dominated by large yucky product producing companies, in my eyes. NOW I would give my eye teeth to have had some experience in cheese making … hopefully in time :-)

To see how the farmer’s markets have progressed from mainly fruits, veggies and flowers to now offering local meats, smoked products, fish products, of course fruits, vegetables and flowers. There are local cheese and candy makers. Even a company that was making jewelry from seeds. All local and mostly organic.

There is hope for villages and our rural areas. I KNOW we can grow and produce at least some of these products.

None of these companies are big, have huge inventories or ship their products far from home. They all spend time trying to improve their products and offer something the customers want.  I do believe it is possible for many areas to offer products to support the variety of different businesses that are in the areas; processing facilities, lodges, guides, restaurants and of course schools. These can help to supplement the local year around markets and provide opportunities for small companies.

It is just a matter of exposure, belief that it is possible and support from all of us. Maybe overly optimistic but I guess that is what keeps me going in bush Alaska.

~ Victoria Briggs

There Ought To Be a Law Against Strip Mining Through a Salmon Stream!!

March 24, 2010

Mar 24, 2010

Fishermen call for law to protect salmon streams

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 23, 2010

Ted L. Helvoigt, Ph.D. Senior Economist ECONorthwest, 541.687.0051
Kendra Zamzow, PhD, Center for Science in Public Participation, 907.354.3886
Terry Jorgensen, commercial set net fisherman, Beluga, Alaska, 907.299.2239

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Chuitna Citizens Coalition, along with fishermen from both commercial and sport fishing interests, are asking for common-sense legislation that will protect Alaskan salmon streams and the jobs and economic security they represent for thousands of Alaskans.

Alaskan salmon streams are threatened by the precedent-setting Chuitna coal strip mine project that proposes to directly mine through 11 miles of Middle Creek, a primary tributary of the Chuitna River, located 45 miles west of Anchorage. Delaware-based PacRim Coal, owned by Dick Bass and William Herbert Hunt, is intent on removing 11 miles of Middle Creek, bank to bank to a depth of over 300 feet.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has identified Middle Creek as important to salmon. Allowing mining through a salmon stream would set a dangerous precedent for the state and would trade healthy, wild salmon for the short-term profits of a strip mine.

Strip mining through salmon streams and the wetlands that feed them poses significant risks to Cook Inlet’s commercial and sport fishing industries, which sustain thousands of Alaskan jobs worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. An ECONorthwest report, released today, reveals that commercially harvested salmon from Cook Inlet had an estimated wholesale value of $61 million and a total impact of nearly $100 million in 2007. The latest figures from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reveal that sport fishing represents an estimated $828 million in economic output and $279 million in regional income.

Terry Jorgensen, a set net fisherman whose shore lease fishery on the west side of Cook Inlet is threatened by PacRim’s proposal.

“We’re all for responsible development,” he says. “But PacRim’s plans to ‘remove’ salmon streams is not responsible development. Destroying Alaskan salmon streams so that an Outside corporation can ship dirty coal to Asian coal-fired power plants defies common sense. Yet this project continues to move forward toward permitting.”

Scientific reports released last year show the mine will permanently damage salmon streams.

“PacRim plans to remove a significant portion of Middle Creek,” said Dr. Kendra Zamzow with Citizens for Science in Public Participation. “Recreating such a complex river system and salmon habitat after removing the entire stream bed, from bank to bank down to a depth of 350 feet, is functionally impossible.”

“The proposed Chuitna coal strip mine puts at risk many of the economic benefits Alaskans enjoy each year from Cook Inlet,” says Ted Helvoigt, economist at ECONorthwest. “Maintaining healthy ecosystems has helped spur economic and population growth in the Cook Inlet region over the past decades. This proposed coal strip mine represents a dramatic departure for a region that has prospered through the protection and careful management of its natural wealth.”

“Governor Parnell says he won’t trade one resource for another, yet the proposed Chuitna coal strip mine would trade sustainable salmon runs for a finite amount of coal bound for export to Asian power plants,” says Jorgensen. “This project will put fishermen out of business for the short-term profits of outside companies. To protect the rights of Alaskans, there ought to be a law against mining through a salmon stream.”

Jorgensen wants Alaska legislators to uphold the key values in the state Constitution. No law exists to ban mining through a salmon stream. At this time, state agencies may issue permits that would allow the bank-to-bank removal of a salmon stream. The state Constitution clearly states that “fish, forests, wildlife, grasslands, and all other replenishable resources belonging to the state shall be utilized, developed and maintained, on the sustained yield principle…”

“It is imperative that we ensure that healthy, wild salmon are available for future generations of Alaskans,” Jorgensen said. “Mining through Middle Creek would set a dangerous precedent. It’s time for state lawmakers to enact clear protections for the wild salmon that provide Alaskans with sustainable jobs and a strong economic future. They must ban mining through salmon streams.

“This is about developing the right kind of economies. Alaska’s world-class salmon runs easily trump any short-term benefit derived from this ill-conceived coal strip mine,” Jorgensen said. “Fishing is Alaska’s most sustainable industry. We should never trade healthy salmon for dirty coal.”

A copy of the full ECONorthwest report can be downloaded here

Visit and for more information.

Sign the petition!