SCS Voices Support for Sitka's Ballot Measure No. 2

Photo by Lione Clare.

Sitka Conservation Society is in support of Ballot Proposition 2, which asks whether the City of Sitka shall withdraw just over 8 million dollars from the Permanent Fund to pay for the construction of a marine vessel haulout and shipyard at the Gary Paxton Industrial Park. 

Traditional harvest, recreational, sport, and commercial fishing industries are a critical part of Sitka’s economic development strategy, our food security, and community wellbeing. Sitka hosts the largest commercial fishing fleet in Southeast Alaska, and hosts a large transient fleet of recreators, visitors, and fishermen from across the region and the Pacific Northwest throughout the seasons. These fleets make up the fabric of our community. These fishermen are our neighbors and friends; they are us and our families. The impact of this industry is felt well beyond the docks; from sales tax to school enrollment, to restaurants, grocery stores and myriad other local businesses. 

This decision was not taken lightly, as we believe that the integrity of the Sitka Permanent Fund is of utmost importance for current and future generations and ultimately, any withdrawal should be paid back so that future generations can continue to recognize returns from this fund. In addition, we believe that building a community haulout is also an investment in future generations, and the future of Sitka as a fishing community. Instead of stock markets, we are physically investing in our community’s ability to continue harvesting, recreating and earning a living from the surrounding waters and the fisheries they support. 

Many fishermen are stalwart defenders of the Tongass and advocates for the sustainable management and use of the resources provided by the land and sea. In dedication to this ethic of ensuring the vitality of this place for generations to come, we encourage responsible development of this facility in a way that will minimize the environmental impacts on the surrounding natural resources. This investment demonstrates Sitka’s dedication to building a vibrant, diversified community and economy that can continue to thrive off the productive waters of the Tongass National Forest and we are proud to support it. 

– Katie Riley and Steve Fish, Sitka Conservation Society