Resolution 2018-17: Support for Updating Alaska Habitat Laws to Protect Salmon Spawning and Rearing Areas

WHEREAS, Alaska Native Tribes depend upon salmon as a fundamental part of our social, cultural, economic, and spiritual wellbeing; and

WHEREAS, access to sustainable healthy resources for our families and our people is critical to preserving our way of life; and

WHEREAS, Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) has made it a priority to protect our hunting and fishing resources for our people; and

WHEREAS, TCC also acknowledges there exist multiple threats to critical salmon spawning and rearing habitat within Alaska; and

WHEREAS, TCC finds protection of critical salmon spawning and rearing habitat necessary to provide for healthy salmon populations for future generations to come; and

WHEREAS, tribes along the Yukon River have demonstrated commitment and sacrifice for conservation and restoration of Yukon River salmon, to provide for healthy and sustainable populations; and

WHEREAS, TCC seeks to reaffirm its support for habitat protections that would ensure the sustainability of the Yukon River king salmon and other salmon species to provide for healthy populations for generations to come; and

WHEREAS, TCC Full Board of Directors unanimously supported Resolution 2017-63: “Changing State Law to Protect our Salmon and Way of Life” at the annual convention in Fairbanks in 2017, in support of the Board of Fish recommendations to change Title 16, Alaska’s Fish Habitat Permitting Law, to proactively protect salmon habitat, preserve our cultures, and sustain our way of life; and

WHEREAS, the Denakkanaaga Board of Directors urged Interior Tribes to unite and protect critical spawning and rearing habitat within our region with Resolution 2017-24: “Protection of Critical Salmon Spawning & Rearing Habitat,” to provide for a healthy population for generations to come, and oppose mining development within these areas; and

WHEREAS, TCC recognizes that economic and community development are needed in rural Alaska for Interior Tribes to thrive, but believe development must be balanced with adequate protections that would reduce or mitigate negative and harmful impacts salmon resources; and

WHEREAS, TCC believes that current habitat laws, as written in Title 16, are too vague and open to different interpretation with changing administrations, creating uncertainty in the permit process and do not adequately and consistently safeguard against harmful impacts to salmon; and do not currently allow for a public input process, leading to a lack of transparency; and

WHEREAS, many Interior Tribes have already experienced tremendous hardship from declines in king salmon populations due to unknown factors, but are undoubtedly impacted by changes in climate in both the freshwater and marine environments; and

WHEREAS, development projects that do not adequately protect salmon spawning and rearing areas could exacerbate these population declines, impacts from climate change, and/or impede existing recovery efforts by Interior Tribes.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference Full Board of Directors support the Stand for Salmon ballot initiative, which amends the State of Alaska Title 16 habitat laws; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Tanana Chiefs Conference, in particular, supports the ballot initiative because it would clearly define “the proper protection of fish and game” by clarifying important habitat characteristics to support salmon runs, such as water quality, flow levels, and fish passage; would include a public process for commenting on permits so that Interior Tribes can bring local and traditional knowledge to the table; and would assume all waterways are capable of supporting salmon unless proven otherwise.

Submitted by: Beaver Village


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