(Editors Note: The following letter was written to Gov. Frank Murkowski and submitted for publication.)
Dear Governor Murkowski,
I am writing this to express my dismay and concern for your plans to allow mixing zones in salmon spawning and rearing areas in Alaska's rivers. This summer I was employed inspecting fish for the Kenai Wild
program. This is a salmon branding project similar to Copper River Salmon, which seeks to build markets for wild Alaska salmon in domestic markets.
Our task has been to build in quality control criteria into all aspects of salmon procurement, processing and marketing. We have been extraordinarily successful in getting compliance from both fishermen and processors, and, as a result, Cook Inlet salmon has become a highly marketable product on the West Coast and in some Mid-west markets.
The job of the Kenai Wild project has been to reform perceptions of Alaska wild salmon as being inconsistent in quality and a poor risk for purchase. Recent press on the difference between wild and farmed salmon has boosted our efforts, especially those reports touting the healthy, chemical-free nature of our wild salmon.
Marketing, Governor, is about perception. All of the progress that we have made in changing perceptions of the quality of our fish will be severely undermined by the perception that Alaska salmon is subject to the same kind of environmental abuse that has led to warnings to consumers not to eat too much fish in the Lower 48, or risk poisoning.
I was born in this state and fished commercially for nearly 25 years before I started to work for Kenai Wild this year. I love fishing. I have seen the industry boom, and I've seen it bust. Salmon branding is our way out of the bust.
Please reconsider your decision to allow
these mixing zones in our streams and leave the current law alone.
Rob Ernst, Kenai
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