“The judge agreed with us that Alaskans have a constitutional right to say how fish habitat is protected,” said Valerie Brown, legal director for Trustees for Alaska. Brown argued the case for the plaintiff, Stand for Salmon, a diverse group of Alaska-based individuals, businesses and organizations concerned about protecting fish habitat.
“What this means is that the initiative will get certified and Stand for Salmon can start collecting the signatures it needs to get the initiative on the ballot,” she said.
Last month Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott declined to certify the “stand for Salmon” initiative after he received a legal opinion that it would limit the ability of the state’s Legislature to allocate state assets.
The Stand for Salmon initiative proposes updates to the state’s 60-year-old law governing development in salmon habitat.
“This ballot measure is an important step back to the levels of protection for salmon that were intended by the authors of the Alaska constitution,” said Gayla Hoseth, an initiative sponsor and subsistence research specialist with the Bristol Bay Native Association in Dillingham. “These are needed updates to an outdated law that will balance responsible development with protecting Alaska’s wild salmon, one of the state’s most vital natural resources from a cultural, economic and recreational perspective.”
“We need to have clear rules for projects proposed in sensitive salmon habitat to ensure they’re being done responsibly – as well as provide more certainty in the permitting process for the industry proposing the project” said Mike Wood, another initiative sponsor and commercial set netter in Upper Cook Inlet.
More information on the initiative is online at www.standforsalmon.org