By Dick Waisanen
Alaska’s seafood industry is our state’s No. 1 private-sector employer. Everyone who lives on the Kenai understands our fisheries don’t just power our economy; they are also an important part of our Alaska heritage.
Our state government should work to support our fisheries, not undermine them.
Unfortunately, Cook Inlet fishermen have been unable to get water reservation applications processed by the state Department of Natural Resources, which was run by Commissioner Dan Sullivan until very recently.
Sullivan said the DNR didn’t have enough employees to review fishermen’s water rights applications. However, his DNR did have enough employees to find time to process numerous permits for Pebble Mine.
If DNR is working overtime for Pebble and stonewalling Alaska fishermen, it needs to get a new set of priorities that put Alaskans first.
Fortunately, two weeks, ago the courts directed DNR to start processing fishermen’s water reservation applications. These water reservations ensure that our salmon streams have water in them.
Without salmon streams, our most valuable fish can’t spawn and create salmon for next year’s catch. We need to protect all salmon streams, including the Chuitna River, to protect Cook Inlet’s salmon fishery.
Dick Waisanen is a Soldotna resident and previous candidate for Alaska State Rep., District 33.
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