Sales of frozen headed and gutted pink and chum salmon, frozen sockeye fillets, and canned halves and talls of pink salmon from Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and Kodiak brought processors $29,999,395 for the first four months of 2016.
The Alaska Department of Revenue’s salmon price report for Jan. 20 through April 30, broken down by region, shows that Prince William Sound processors alone earned $7,243,293 for 6,553,905 pounds of frozen headed and gutted pink and chum salmon, plus $10,264,027 for 145,278 cans of tall pinks. the Coast Mountains of British Columbia through Southeast Alaska. These watersheds are critical to salmon-rich habitat, abundant wildlife, and the economic and cultural traditions of British Columbia and residents of Southeast Alaska.
Jewell has that power, said Guy Archibald, science director for Inland Passage Waterkeeper, in Juneau, under Section 8 of the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967, also known as the Pelly Amendment.
“We are doing this to assure the continued health and integrity of these three river systems into the future,” said Archibald, who has an extensive background in chemistry and microbiology. “We want the federal government to invoke the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty, which states that one country cannot pollute the waters flowing into another country, but in order to invoke this treaty, both countries have to send a letter of reference to the International Joint Commission.
“The only reason the two governments are hesitant is once they refer it to the IJC, it is out of their hands,” he said.
The petition comes on the heals of a May 12 letter from Alaska’s congressional delegation, that suggested a referral of the issue to the International Joint Commission as a potential solution.
Development and operation of these mines could severely impact life on the U.S. side of the border, said Frederick Olsen Jr., chairman of the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group. “The U.S. government has a fiduciary responsibility to federally recognized tribes,” Olsen said. “We maintain a special government-to-government relationship. We call on the federal government, in this case Secretary Jewell, to formally get involved. We are all in this together.”
The Pelly Amendment originally required the Secretary of Commerce to report to the President when he or she determines that nationals of a foreign country are undermining conservation treaties. The President is then authorized to direct the Secretary of the treasury to prohibit importation of fish products from the offending nation for such duration as the secretary determines and to the extent that such prohibition is consistent with the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.
In 1978, the Pelly Amendment was expanded, authorizing the President to embargo wildlife products, including all fish not previously covered, whenever the secretaries of Interior or Commerce certifies that these nationals are engaging in activities that diminish the effectiveness of the international program in force with respect to the United States for conservation of endangered or threatened species.
In 2014, the Interior Department announced that it had certified President Obama under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 that Iceland’s international trade in whale meat and products diminishes the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
The 69 page petition, dispatched by electronic mail and certified mail on June 27, was signed by representatives of Earthjustice, Craig Tribal Association, Inside Passage Waterkeeper, Petersburg Indian Association, Salmon State, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group, Friends of the Stikine Society, Organized Village of Kasaan, Rivers Without Borders, Sierra Club BC, and Trout Unlimited.
The coalition contends that the transboundary watersheds are endangered by development of metals mines in British Columbia, including the Tulsequah Chief, Red Chris, Schaft Creek, Galore Creek, Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell and Brucejack mines. All six mines involve large-scale infrastructure development and would generate huge quantities of tailings and mine wastes, so that water treatment would be required in perpetuity. Threats of acid mine drainage and heavy metals pollution, as will as catastrophic dam failures, would hang over the watersheds for centuries after closure of the mines, they contend.
The Tulsequah Chief mine, which has been closed for some time, has been leaking acid drainage into the Taku River since 1957, Archibald said. Ever couple of decades the Canadian government says they will do something, but all they do is send the mine owner a nasty letter, and they won’t revoke their permit.”