FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 26, 2015
Dale Kelley, Alaska Trollers Association, 907-723-8765, email@example.com
Heather Hardcastle, Salmon Beyond Borders, 907/209-8486, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Zimmer, Rivers Without Borders, 907/586-2166, email@example.com
ALASKANS TO CANADIAN MINISTER: INTERNATIONAL SOLUTION TO MINE THREATS IS NEEDED
Meeting with British Columbia Mines Minister Described as Productive First Step
Alaskans met in Juneau today with British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, and other B.C. and Alaska officials to discuss transboundary mining concerns.
“The meeting was a productive first step and we’re grateful for the opportunity to meet with Minister Bennett and Alaska Lt. Governor Mallott. While cross-border cooperation is essential for protecting fisheries, it involves more than provincial and state agreements regarding the sharing of data and perspectives. Fishermen want commitments regarding the watersheds that impact our fisheries to be backed up by the full force of the US government and Crown because that offers the greatest chance that they will be binding and upheld over time,” said Dale Kelley, executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association.
B.C. is moving forward with an aggressive program of mine development in the transboundary region bordering Southeast Alaska, projects that threaten clean water, wild salmon, tourism, indigenous communities and Alaska’s unique way of life. Thousands of Alaskans have requested that the International Joint Commission, created under the Boundary Waters Treaty, examine potential risks to Alaska posed by the multitude of mine developments in B.C.
“We thank Lt. Governor Mallott and the Walker Administration for their continued attention to our transboundary mining concerns and are glad that Minister Bennett has made the effort to visit Southeast Alaska and to engage with us directly. We agree with Mr. Bennett that the status quo cannot continue. However, we continue to believe that an international solution under the Boundary Waters Treaty is the best way to ensure that BC’s mining does not adversely impact Alaskan fish, water and way of life. We need financial assurances prior to the permitting of projects that monitoring and remediation of accidents will be funded over the long term and that Alaskans would be compensated if BC mining damages fisheries and water quality,” said Heather Hardcastle of Salmon Beyond Borders, a diverse coalition of fishing, tribal, tourism and other organizations concerned about B.C. mine development in the transboundary region.
In today’s meeting with Minister Bennett, there was general agreement that business as usual cannot continue and that there is a clear need for more dialogue between Alaskans and BC officials. However, BC officials could not provide us with a clear plan or timeline as to how Alaskan’s concerns are managed and addressed.
“I think some progress was made in demonstrating our concerns and explaining our proposed solution to utilize the Boundary Waters Treaty. Increased involvement in the B.C. permitting process is not a bad thing, but it is not a solution on its own. In other words, we stand firm for the need of an international solution under the Boundary Waters Treaty. We are encouraged and thankful that Lt. Governor Mallott will continue to engage with the State Department on this issue,” said Chris Zimmer of Rivers Without Borders.
More information is available at www.salmonbeyondborders.org