Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

State Department Takes Up Transboundary Rivers Issue

 

February 1, 2018

The abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine continues to discharge toxic acidic water into the Taku watershed, despite numerous concerns voiced about that mine. Photo by By David Nunuk.

Federal officials have acknowledged Alaska's concerns over protecting the transboundary watershed and have begun dialogue on the issue with their Canadian counterparts toward protecting the rivers flowing from British Columbia into Alaska, says Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott.

"This is an encouraging update," Mallott said, citing a letter received from the State Department in mid-December detailing communications on the matter between the federal agency and the Division of US Transboundary Affairs of Global Affairs Canada.

Concerns over the impact of transboundary mining were raised by the State Department's Office of Canadian Affairs during this past fall's semi-annual meetings of the International Joint Commission in Ottawa. There a commitment was reached with Global Affairs Canada to engage in a bilateral review of gaps and limitations in the cooperation frameworks between the governments of British Columbia and Alaska, Montana and Idaho, Charles S. Faulkner, of the State Department's Bureau of Legislative Affairs, told Mallott in a letter.

The State Department will lead this review process with interagency and stakeholder input, with the goal of sharing its findings with Global Affairs Canada at meetings of the International Joint Commission in April, Faulkner said.

The State Department has established an interagency workgroup chaired with the US Environmental Protection Agency, to coordinate actions and communicate their concerns to the Canadian government, he said.

"As Canadian support would be required for a joint International Joint Commission reference, we will continue to raise this issue in upcoming bilateral meetings, he said.

As British Columbia has continued to develop new mines along salmon rich transboundary rivers, prompting concerns from environmental, tribal and commercial fishing entities in Alaska over potential adverse impact on these rivers. There are also similar concerns about existing mines, including the Tulsequah Chief, an abandoned mine that continues to discharge toxic acidic water into the Taku watershed, despite numerous concerns voiced about that mine.

 
 

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