EDITOR, Daily News:

I’ve lived in Ketchikan for almost my entire life and have seen the waves of different industries in Southeast Alaska crest and fall. Whether it is commercial fishing, timber or tourism, our economy relies on working with what is available to us: fish, trees and beautiful sites. A growing, healthy industry utilizes what we have in abundance: our coastline.

The mariculture industry responsibly utilizes what we already have in abundance, and I am pleased to support it as it continues taking root in Southeast and across the state. Oyster and kelp farms found along our coastline have created a new resource and provided jobs in the area. The industry is still in its infancy, but it has so much potential. Innovation has led to greater demand for aquatic products to use in creating medicines, biodegradable plastics and other products. I believe Southeast Alaska is positioned well to be part of growing blue economy.

More than anything, our mariculture industry relies on healthy oceans and coastlines. I have spoken frequently about protecting our transboundary waterways by expecting Canadian mines to go through a more rigorous permitting process and being financially responsible for any damages.

Similarly, I support the decision to pause development of Pebble Mine. Our coastline resources are not limited to the Southeast, and we should be supportive of our neighboring blue economy farther northwest. I agree with the sentiment of the late Sen. Ted Stevens when he said, “I'm not against mining, but it is the wrong mine for the wrong place.” Mining can happen responsibly, and does in other parts of Alaska and Southeast, without posing a threat to our coastal resources. We need to strike a balance in the development of industries without jeopardizing our living, renewable resources.

Mariculture is here to stay, and thrive, so long as we invest in the long-term health of our coasts. I will continue to support our mariculture industry however I can. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to email me at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov or call my office.

REP. DAN ORTIZ

House District 36

Ketchikan