An economic study released by the McDowell Group and commissioned by Salmon Beyond Borders found that watersheds in southeast Alaska transboundary watersheds are valued at just under $1 billion dollars when considering a 30-year horizon, or about $48 million per year. What’s more, the fisheries can generate the economic benefits for the foreseeable future if managed correctly. The areas included in this study are the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk River watersheds. The study also touches upon economic contributions of Southeast Alaska from the Nass and Skeena Rivers. Commercial fishing and the recreation industry are the two major inputs of economic activity focused upon in the report.
The study emerges at a contentious time in the region as the scopes of large-scale metal mining in various phases of development along these watersheds in British Columbia are increasing. Calls for binding, transboundary treaties are getting louder. A meeting held by the Alaska House Fisheries Committee tackled the issue head on with hundreds of Alaskans responding. The political pressure spurred House Fisheries Committee Chair Representative Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) to send a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to request international agreements between the US and Canada. The Alaska congressional and Washington state US Senate delegations have sent similar letters to the US State Department.
You can read the McDowell Group study for yourself here (http://bit.ly/2fkWmzI) and Representative Stutes’ letter to John Kerry here (http://bit.ly/2gD49eW). With international relations, big money, the fate of the environment, and thousands of people’s livelihoods in the balance, the drama is fascinating to behold. We encourage you to exercise your democratic muscles and write to your local representative if you feel strongly about this issue.