Frequently Asked Questions
How did the fish habitat initiative end up on the ballot?
A private group called Stand for Salmon received a significant portion of their money from Outside groups to develop ballot measure language. The group then paid staff to circulate the petition to obtain the required signatures to get it on the ballot. The ballot measure was written in private without public review or comment. There were no public hearings to discuss the potential impacts or provide alternative perspectives.
Who is funding the campaign for the ballot measure?
Most of the funding comes from out-of-state groups and individuals, including an Oregon-based environmental group and private foundations in California and Washington, DC. Wealthy individuals from New York and Massachusetts have contributed most of the funding thus far.
Are Alaska’s fish habitat protection laws outdated?
No. Alaska’s laws include a section, Title 16, entirely dedicated to protecting one of our most important resources—fish. Since statehood in 1959, over 18 new federal and state policies have been enacted to strengthened fish habitat protections. In addition, Alaska has added numerous regional protections that are unique to habitats and species, allowing for sophisticated policies that address the demands of each environment specifically.
Every year, new bodies of water are added to the State’s protected fish habitat listing. Many regard “the Alaska model” for fishery management laws and regulations among the strongest of all fifty states.
Why do the vast majority of Alaska’s Native Corporations oppose the ballot measure?
The language in the initiative challenges the rights of Native Corporations to determine how they develop their land and resources. In fact, the President & CEO of Doyon, Limited, the single largest private landowner in the state, has said that if the initiative passes “there will not be another major project built in rural Alaska.”
How will Alaska’s communities be impacted by passage of the fish habitat measure?
The initiative would make the development of roads, waste water treatments plants, dams, ports, docks and other infrastructure nearly impossible or cost prohibitive, particularly in rural Alaska. Some vital projects will not go forward. Major road improvements, including the Seward Highway south of Anchorage and work on the Glenn, Sterling, Steese and Parks highways could become much more costly and might not happen at all.
How will Alaska’s economy and jobs be impacted by passage of the ballot measure?
The initiative threatens the future of both existing and new development projects. It will cause delays, added costs and could prevent projects from ever happening because of the new regulations. Alaska will lose jobs, as major sectors of the economy would suffer as projects are slowed or stopped. In fact, the Keith Meyer, President & CEO of Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, has said that project would be impossible if the initiative is passed.
Will existing projects be impacted?
The initiative does not grandfather existing operations. Once current permits expire, existing operations would need to reapply for permits under this new system. Many operations would be unable to get approved under the new regulations, forcing them to shutdown. Current operations, like Prudhoe Bay and Red Dog Mine, would not have been permitted under this initiative.
“Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth has said the initiative would have the effect of categorically blocking certain mines, dams, roads and pipelines." - Anchorage Daily News, 1.29.18
Does the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have adequate tools to protect fish habitat?
State fishery managers have stated publicly that they believe the rules in place today adequately protect habitat.
“We care about fish...We work with the [permit] applicants to make sure we’re not impacting the system or that there will be minimal impact…We have had a lot of successes.” - Audra Brase, Regional Supervisor, Fairbanks, ADF&G Division of Habitat, 3/20/18
What is an anadromous fish?
Anadromous fish are fish or fish species that spend a portion of their life cycles in both fresh and salt waters, entering fresh water from the sea to spawn. There are more than 30 Anadromous fish species in Alaska, including the anadromous forms of Pacific trout and five species of Pacific salmon (rainbow and cutthroat trout and chinook, coho, sockeye, chum and pink salmon), Arctic char, Dolly Varden, sheefish, smelts, lamprey, and whitefish.
How does that state currently identify fish habitat?
The state maintains a list that includes more than 19,000 bodies of water that have been identified as fish habitat. Alaska Department of Fish and Game adds new bodies of water to that list each year through a nomination process. According to ADF&G, most nominations come from state fish or habitat biologists. Others are received from biologists with other state and federal agencies, staff of non-government organizations, businesses and individuals. This process also includes a public commentary period. Public notices are published on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s website.