Jason Ching

Alaska’s Historic Vote for Salmon Falls Short

Alaska’s Historic Vote for Salmon Falls Short

Alaska salmon movement gains momentum, but comes up short of passing Measure 1.

Yesterday, we closed a chapter on an ambitious campaign to protect the last great salmon stronghold hold in North America — Alaska.

Over the last year, we have been working with the Stand for Salmon campaign to pass Ballot Measure 1, which created habitat protection standards for Alaska’s salmon streams. The campaign took the bold step to try to stop the cycle of salmon loss that has plagued every other region in the world.

We are disappointed the pro-salmon movement in Alaska did not bring in the votes to pass Measure 1. (We faced significant headwinds from a $12 million misinformation campaign funded by the oil and mining industry). But Wild Salmon Center and the Stand for Salmon campaign have undeniably changed the narrative about salmon habitat in Alaska.

The campaign centered around Stand for Salmon staff and volunteers talking directly to other Alaskans — on doorsteps and docks, at state fairs and business round tables.  As a result of more than 60,000 of these conversations over the past year, Alaskans are more vocal advocates of their world-class salmon streams and rivers.

This campaign demonstrated that salmon are a unifying force across political and geographic boundaries in Alaska.

  • More than 80,000 Alaskan voters stated emphatically that the status quo for salmon habitat protections is not enough;

  • The campaign has put the world’s largest oil and mining corporations on notice that they need to take care of Alaska’s salmon streams;

  • Alaskans now recognize the need for scientific standards to maintain healthy habitat and give the Alaska Department Fish and Game the tools to do their job; and

  • Alaskans have said that local communities need to be included in development decisions concerning salmon habitat.

Stand for Salmon’s 70 person campaign staff put in countless hours pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, making calls and talking to Alaskans one-on-one. More than 500 volunteers helped get the word out. More than 1,800 Alaskan donors helped power this campaign. Over 400 Alaskan businesses and organizations signed on to endorse the ballot measure.

Thank you, Wild Salmon Center donors and friends, for being a central force in this campaign. Stand for Salmon could not have reached the heights it did without you, and our partners in Alaska have been explicit about expressing gratitude to the WSC community.

The Stand for Salmon movement is not about just one vote, it is not going anywhere. Led by fishermen, sportsmen and women, Native leaders, and conservation groups across Alaska, it has been working for five years to improve public participation and stronger standards for development in Alaska. The campaign continues, with new momentum, new members, and new campaign knowledge and muscle from the Measure 1 chapter.  

Stay tuned as we turn to working with decision makers in the state capitol in Juneau to improve habitat protections in Alaska and prevent significant damage to Bristol Bay and all of Alaska’s world class salmon fisheries.

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