Alaska rejects salmon habitat protection measure, elects Mike Dunleavy governor

Published on
November 7, 2018

In a midterm election which will likely have a significant impact on Alaska’s lucrative seafood industry, U.S. Representative Don Young was re-elected, State Senator Mike Dunleavy will become Alaska’s governor, and Ballot Measure 1, which sought to ensconce greater protections for salmon habitat, was defeated.

Young, the longest serving member of Congress (he has served since 1973), handily defeated his opponent, Alyse Galvin, who ran as an independent, to secure his 24th term in the House of Representatives. Young is the lead sponsor of a bill amending the Manguson-Stevens Act, which passed the House in July and is currently pending in the Senate. Young’s amendment would eliminate restrictions placed on regional fishery management councils and would give the councils more control over no-fishing timeframes in order to rebuild stocks.

Ballot Measure 1, which would have enacted stricter regulations for oil and gas development in salmon habitats and added regulations for restoring salmon streams if they are disturbed by development, was also defeated by a large margin. The measure drew criticism from Republicans, including U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, who said it would interfere with business and development in the state.

Dunleavy was considered the frontrunner in the race after incumbent Governor Bill Walker, an independent, dropped out of the race in October and endorsed Dunleavy’s opponent, Mark Begich. During his campaign, Dunleavy voiced his opposition to Ballot Measure 1, though he did not taken a position on Pebble Mine, which critics say could create runoff and pollution that would endanger wild salmon in Bristol Bay.

Dunleavy has also not made clear whether he supports or opposes the Trump administration’s tariffs levied on China, which threaten the state’s seafood industry, in part due to retaliatory tariffs imposed by Beijing.

Photo courtesy of Mike Dunleavy for Governor

Reporting from Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

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