Added protections are needed for salmon habitat

By Mike Friccdero

For The Cordova Times

My name is Mike Friccero and I am from an Alaska fishing family with strong and deep ties to salmon in Alaska. I strongly support Ballot Measure 1 and will be voting YES FOR SALMON! in support of the ballot initiative on November 6.

Please be aware that Stand for Salmon is an Alaska based lobbying organization with a diverse donor group that includes thousands of individuals and employs a strategy to protect our Salmon on behalf of future generations and subsistence users alike. I am proud to be a founding donor of Stand for Salmon and there are hundreds if not thousands like me in the donor base

Stand for Alaska is a resource industry based (corporate funded) group that includes most major polluters in our state. The major mining companies are among the core donors for this group.

I just went to the local grocery store this afternoon – I have been approached frequently and four times in the store just today by Alaska voters and my neighbors who are asking if they should vote “no” on the ballot initiative to increase salmon protections. These Kodiak folks wish to add protection to salmon habitat and are in support of the ballot initiative but are confused by the similarities of the opposing sides. They are confused and misdirected by the tactics of the Stand for Alaska campaign. The initial co-opting/poaching of “Stand For xxx” name, brand, logos, colors and messaging was followed quickly by a robust $11-million ad campaign that is designed to confuse and misdirect the casual voter.

The local voters approaching me are confused because they are targeted by confusing, ambiguous branding and apocalyptic ad campaigns that indicate if you are a loyal Alaskan, you should vote against the ballot initiative. I recently saw one ad that stated the Alyeska Pipeline would cease to operate under the proposed new regulations, implying we would all lose our PFD. Another ad implied we would not be able to fly air cargo under the proposed changes. The Stand for AK representative told the Kodiak audience last night that we would be more likely to crash in an airplane if these protections were implemented! These dramatic ads and statements are scare tactics employed and paid for by the large resource extraction corporations. These interloping corporations wish to strip environmental protections wherever they encounter them and will fight any and all efforts to add regulation even when it is the will of the people to do so.

It is very difficult for a politician to enact habitat protection measures in the current political climate, so we will do this for them. They can thank us later. Do not expect any current political representative or corporate interest to support this initiative. They do not want the people of Alaska legislating by ballot initiative as it is considered legislation by “blunt force trauma” and no one gets to trade favors and influence while strengthening or weakening the proposed language and intended results.

Speaking of the will of the people, it is important to understand that in this effort to place increased salmon protection legislation, we are telling the Alaska legislature that this IS “the will of the people” that they are elected to serve. Remember that they are lobbied and influenced every day by corporate lobbyists who are also their major donors. These industry lobbyists are purchasing access and influence, or they would otherwise not be wasting their time and money. But the people have the votes that place or remove the representatives from office. We have the final and ultimate responsibility to stand up to corporate interests and protect our salmon. By ballot initiative we have the chance, every once in a while, to say how things are going to be. Did I mention that Salmon habitat protection is provided for in our Constitution? Just not adequately. Let’s fix that now.

By voting “yes” for the Ballot Measure 1 on November 6, we will add protections for salmon habitat and give our legislature the direct instruction to represent and protect the interests of the voters of Alaska, and not just the corporations.

Mike Friccero of Kodiak, owner and captain of the F/V Miss Gina, currently serves on several nonprofit fisheries organizations’ boards and works for the protection of salmon habitat.