Salmon were once abundant all over the world. Rivers and streams from Spain to Scandinavia were filled with them, as were Japan and Russia. North American salmon runs sustained indigenous populations and were so plentiful that farmers fertilized their fields with them.
All these runs have been driven to extinction or close to it.
Salmon are eliminated by a combination of factors: overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution. Runs are weakened until one final blow pushes them over the edge to extinction. But the fundamental reason is always the same: they got in the way of someone making a buck.
Mining and oil companies have laid down $11 million to defeat Ballot Measure 1. Alaska Native Corporations have also come out against it. It’s not that these people hate salmon: they may love salmon. They may love to fish, and respect it as part of sacred creation. But destroying salmon is their job, and destroy it they will, sooner or later.
In fairness, only the proponents of the Donlin or the Pebble mine openly advocate for annihilating large areas. Most just want to be able to destroy some small part. They tell themselves that somehow the salmon will go on as they always have, ignoring the fact that the species has been wiped out in nearly its entire range. And as we’ve seen with King salmon, extinction can happen with surprising rapidity.
If you want salmon around for your children, vote yes on Ballot Measure 1. Or vote No for extinction.
My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.