Local commercial fishermen pose for a picture with Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, center, after delivering a letter in support for her fisheries bill at the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Local commercial fishermen pose for a picture with Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, center, after delivering a letter in support for her fisheries bill at the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Local fishermen, mining companies divided over fish habitat

Local fishermen and mining companies are picking sides this week over stringent new rules for construction on Alaska salmon habitat. One group did it through letters to a legislator. The other, with paper of a different sort: a $200,000 contribution.

The Stand for Salmon initiative and a similar bill known as House Bill 199 establish a new procedure for construction permits on fish habitat issued by Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It’s more complicated than existing permitting, mining companies say, and would be prohibitively expensive for construction projects across the state.

But fishermen say they simply want construction done responsibly. Without updates to a decades-old permitting law, commercial salmon fishing is put at risk by large oil, gas and mining projects.

Flanked by the group of seven other Juneau fishermen, gillnetter Sommers Cole gave HB 199 a stamp of approval Thursday when he delivered a letter to bill author Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, on behalf of 200 fishermen. About 30 of the signers are Juneau fishermen, Cole told the Empire before his meeting with Stutes at the Capitol.

For the rest of this story, visit the Juneau Empire.

Sommers Cole, right, hands Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak a letter with other local commercial fisherman in support for her fisheries bill at the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sommers Cole, right, hands Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak a letter with other local commercial fisherman in support for her fisheries bill at the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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