Today Alaska votes on Ballot Measure 1, the Stand for Salmon habitat protection initiative.

Less than two weeks ago a two-page mailer from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski landed in mailboxes across the state, urging recipients to join Murkowski in voting against the measure.

Murkowski’s opposition to the proposition did not come as a surprise. The opposing sides — Stand for Salmon and Stand for Alaska  — are largely represented as fisheries advocates versus the oil and gas sector. In Alaska, oil and gas pay a lot of bills.

The Stand for Salmon advocates argue that they’re trying to put fisheries on equal footing with development and other modes of resource extraction.

“Salmon fishing provides jobs for over 32,000 Alaskans and generates $2 billion in economic activity each year,” according to the Stand For Salmon page. “Salmon populations across Alaska have been declining in recent years, and our 60-year-old laws, intended to protect Alaska salmon habitat for future generations, have become outdated and ineffective.”

Murkowski responds in the letter that “Ballot Measure 1 goes too far in trying to tackle issues of fish habitat,” including undermining “the rights of Alaska Native people to develop their own lands and resources as guaranteed under federal law.”

The latter portion is Murkowski’s most substantiated claim in the letter. Yet, it seems that if this were true, the language of the Stand for Salmon Act would not stand up to a test in federal court.

Read the language of the bill yourself. Don’t forget to vote. Tune in here for updates.

Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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