Knowles seeks protection from Chilean salmon exports

Posted: Thursday, November 07, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles is urging the Bush administration's chief trade negotiator to take strong steps against Chilean salmon exports.

Knowles has sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, asking that provisions barring the dumping of low-priced Chilean farmed salmon be included in a trade agreement with Chile.

U.S. negotiators are trying to reach a free-trade agreement with Chile by the end of the year.

''The salmon fishing industry in Alaska and the communities that are dependent on it will likely be affected by any trade agreement that does not respond to Chile's overproduction and overcapacity of farmed salmon,'' Knowles wrote in a letter sent Nov. 1 to Zoellick.

State officials say the rapid increase in Chile's export of farmed salmon in recent years has glutted world salmon markets and driven down prices for fish, including Alaska's wild salmon.

Knowles says Alaska's once-lucrative salmon industry is now often unprofitable.

''The result of the low prices and decline in market share of Alaska salmon is already clear in the reduced number of salmon fishing permits used in Alaska. The loss of these jobs often occurs in remote coastal communities where fishing is the only industry available,'' Knowles wrote.

Knowles urged Zoellick to exercise his authority to ensure foreign trade rules that are fair to Alaska fishermen.

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