Fish Radio

September 5, 2014

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Governor candidates talk fish advisers and mine threats. More after this –

Fishing regions of AK Credit: noaa.gov

Fishing regions of AK
Credit: noaa.gov

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 Questions for last week’s governor candidates fisheries debate were gathered across the state. Two top topics were fisheries advisers and threats from mines. To the first, Governor Parnell defended his selection of a former Pebble Mine PR man.

The bottom line is I have a new special assistant named Ben Mohr. My fisheries advisory team, which I rely on heavily, consists of Cora Campbell, our commissioner of Fish and Game, Stefanie Moreland, our deputy commissioner of Fish and Game, and Ben Mohr. Ben’s experience brings to me  the wildlife side of management as well as the sport fish side. But when it comes to commercial fish issues – it’s a team effort. This is not a situation where there is a fish czar like Clem Tillion. This is a special assistant in the office of the governor who is responsible for inter-governmental coordination, meaning coordination among agencies like Fish and Game and DNR and others.

Candidate Bill Walker sees things differently.

The qualifications for my fisheries adviser will be someone who is deeply rooted in Alaska’s fisheries, someone who has the knowledge and experience and has a passion to grow the industry and challenge the industry and make it better through technology and research and development and through sustainability. So that will be a key position for me and it will be someone who has those qualifications.

Many Southeast Alaskans asked what steps will be taken to make sure their region won’t be damaged from big mining projects ready to operate in neighboring British Columbia. One, the KSM Mine, is less than 20 miles from Alaska’s border.

Candidate Bill Walker says he’d turn to the trans-boundary treaty with Canada.

It basically says neither will pollute each other’s waterways so I will certainly look at that treaty and will take a strong position to make sure we know what they are doing. Our laws are different than their laws as far as environmental protection. Mining is an important part of Alaska’s economy and in BC as well, but not to the detriment of the fish.  We need to have an understanding of their environmental protection laws in their mining regulations and how they differ from ours. But we have to have a good working relationship with them on this issue. It’s critical.

Governor Sean Parnell said the State has sent its comments and concerns and asked for a more robust review of the KSM mine.

So we participate in the Canadian regulatory process, and at the same time we monitor what is going on in the other side. But sometimes as a result of letters like were sent, we received back threats where large mining companies want to pull their funding from our permitting processes. And what I’ll tell you is that I will make sure that the state adequately funds our large mine permitting processes to protect our fish and our resources.

 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.

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