A new Biden administration plan calling for conservation of 30 percent of lands and oceans by 2030 is winning kudos from SalmonState to increase protection of wild salmon watersheds.
“Coming on the heels of an alarming report from the state of Washington showing salmon on the brink of extinction with climate change being a major factor, we need to take bold steps right now if we are going to have a fighting chance to preserve the healthy wild salmon runs many of us take for granted,” said Tim Bristol, executive director of SalmonState. The Alaska based initiative, which works with commercial harvesters, businesses, scientists and others, is urging the Biden administration to move quickly to protect some of the nation’s best remaining fish and wildlife habitat, include Alaska’s wild salmon watersheds.
The controversy between conservation and development of other parts of the economy remains a constant struggle, particularly as the nation wrestles with recovery now from the economic challenges of the global pandemic. Legal battles range over the wisdom of some conservation plans because of their perceived potential or immediate adverse impact on resource extraction in the mining, oil and gas and timber industries. Particular concern has been voiced, for example, over a new Biden administration decision suspending new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits on U.S. lands and waters for 60 days as the new administration moves to reverse energy and environmental policies of the previous administration.
But changing ocean and freshwater conditions in recent years have been causing Alaska’s wild salmon to return smaller and produce fewer eggs than historic norms, and studies confirm that the future of Alaska’s wild salmon will depend on stemming the pace of climate change.
Bristol said that SalmonState is looking forward to working with the new administration to address threats to fisheries from climate change. SalmonState believes this conservation plan can demonstrate quickly a positive impact on the lives of Alaskans dependent on the fisheries, specifically by protecting Southeast Alaska’s transboundary rivers via international agreement, salmon watersheds in the Tongass National Forest by reinstating the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, and Bristol Bay’s massive sockeye runs through the Clean Water Act, Bristol said.