My name is Chris Miller; I am a commercial fisherman, professional photographer, and a member of the Juneau Douglas F&G Advisory Committee.
Once upon a time, there were salmon in the Thames, Seine and the many major arteries of mainland Europe. They are gone.
There were once salmon swimming in the Charles River near Boston, and the many tributaries along the Eastern Seaboard. They are gone.
The salmon on the West Coast, use to choke the mighty Columbia River and the many rivers and streams that line the Western edge of the North American Continent. They too are almost gone.
This is not a fairy tale, it is historical non-fiction; all of these places have one thing in common, human development in its myriad of forms. Laws protecting salmon and their natal streams go back to the Magna Carta, and have been overlooked and unenforced for just as long.
I have been to the Tulsequah Mine site and seen first hand what 60-plus years of acid mine drainage leeching into a river looks like. I have spoken with Tlingit First Nations people, who remember as children playing in the streams and tributaries of the Tulsequah full of Coho salmon. They are now almost gone.
The Territory of Alaska was purchased in large part due to our wealth in salmon. Salmon were the resource that the populace of our territory coalesced around to vote to become a state. We have a robust and revered constitution that gives us simple and steadfast guidance to protect our resources to the maximum benefit of our peoples now and in the future.
The Tulsequah Mine acid leeching and the Mount Polley Dam collapse are warning signs of a lack of oversight, regulation, and stewardship by the Canadian Government and mining industry. It is paramount that we as a state hold the BC Government to the highest possible standards to protect our interests, and theirs, in the rivers that flow across our shared border, that are protected under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.
The Transboundary Rivers of the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk are the last remaining undeveloped rivers on the West Coast of North America that sustain natural runs of all 5 species of Pacific Salmon. At present they are intact ecosystems that will continue to support salmon indefinitely. If we fail to recognize and accept the historical antecedents of salmon in Europe and the rest of the Continental United States, I fear salmon may become an allegory in a future fairy tale.
October 12, 2016
SALMON BEYOND BORDERS is a campaign driven by sport and commercial fishermen, community leaders, tourism and recreation business owners and concerned citizens, in collaboration with Tribes and First Nations, united across the Alaska/British Columbia border to defend and sustain our transboundary rivers, jobs and way of life.
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