Bill will harm Alaska fisheries

Gov. Parnell has proposed legislation allowing cruise ships to dump “partially” treated sewage and heavy metals in Alaska state waters. HB 80 would overturn a citizens’ initiative regulating the cruise ship industry. As a commercial fisherman, I strongly oppose HB 80. This act will harm Alaska’s fisheries.

 

The citizens’ initiative that Gov. Parnell and Sen. Giessel are trying to repeal says cruise ships “may not discharge untreated sewage, treated sewage, graywater or other wastewaters in a manner that violates any applicable effluent limits or standards under state or federal law, including Alaska Water Quality Standards governing pollution at the point of discharge.” HB 80 would repeal the last clause of this law so that dumping of “partially” treated sewage and wastewater in Alaska state waters would be considered adequate “treatment.”

The 2006 citizens’ initiative was passed by Alaskan voters. The Northwest Cruiseship Association spent $1,344,244 to oppose this initiative, while the opposition spent less than $8,500. Our legislators should not sell out our fishery and our future to the highest bidder.

An executive from Holland America made the maximum allowable campaign contribution to Giessel during the last election. All told, the cruise industry is spending over $390,000 on campaign contributions and lobbyists to pass HB 80. Outside CEOs and Washington D.C. lobbyists have big money to push this bill. In fact, the CEOs/Presidents of Carnival, Princess, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean, none of whom live in Alaska, have all contributed money to the Republican legislators in Juneau who are pushing this bill.

Those pushing this bill claim that “mixing zones” are adequate treatment of partially-treated sewage and heavy metals. “Mixing zones” are just areas of our state waters. That’s where I fish and many other residents of the Kenai earn a living. Alaska’s fisheries shouldn’t be dumping grounds for the cruise ship industry.

Senator Cathy Giessel is a leading proponent of HB 80. She not only supports this bill to allow partially treated sewage and heavy metals to contaminate our fisheries, but also led Senate Republican efforts to block all amendments to HB 80. Senator Hollis French led an effort, supported by the United Fishermen of Alaska, to require any cruise dumping to take place at least two miles offshore. Cathy Giessel claimed that “science” didn’t support that amendment. I don’t need a Ph.D to understand that sewage and salmon don’t mix.

Giessel even blocked an amendment, which would have required public disclosure of where dumping takes place. If HB 80 passes, we won’t have the right to know where cruiseships are dumping their filth.

We need for our legislators to represent all Alaskans’ interests, not those of Outside lobbyists and corporate contributors. Alaska’s fisheries are our future. Cathy Giessel and Sean Parnell should be ashamed of selling us out to a bunch of Outside lobbyists and CEOs. Those lobbyists will never have to fish where a cruiseship’s “partially” treated sewage is dumped. Fishermen from the Kenai Peninsula certainly will. Please ask your Senator to vote no on HB 80.

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