NEWS: Representative Tarr Introduces Legislation to Protect Wild Alaska Salmon

Rep. Geran Tarr

Bills Aim to Support Leading Private Sector Employer During Tough Times

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2016

JUNEAU – Today, Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) introduced legislation aimed at protecting wild Alaska salmon and thriving, sustainable fisheries.  House Bill 258 will prohibit the sale of genetically modified fish, dubbed “Frankenfish,” in the state of Alaska.  House Joint Resolution 28 denounces the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage genetically engineered salmon.  This is the first time a genetically modified animal has been approved by the FDA for human consumption. 

“The fishing industry is Alaska’s number one private sector employer and our annual seafood exports total over $3.25 billion,” said House Resources Committee member Rep. Geran Tarr.  “Wild Alaska salmon is a part of our way of life and our sustainable fisheries can help us through these tough fiscal times.”

Alaskans overwhelmingly oppose approval of Frankenfish.  In Washington DC, Senator Murkowski has vowed to fight GMO salmon and is pushing for mandatory labeling so consumers can choose healthy wild Alaska salmon instead of fish made in a laboratory from the genetic material of three different species.

“I stand in support of this bipartisan effort to protect Alaska’s fisheries from the adverse habitat and economic effects of GMO salmon for all user groups. Whether you identify yourself as a commercial, sport, personal use, or subsistence user of our salmon resources, we should do everything we can to help our fisheries, fishing families, coastal communities, and the thousands who rely on Alaska’s healthy fisheries,” said Senator Peter Micciche (R-Kenai Peninsula).  “I also applaud our past and current Congressional delegation for continuing to stand up for wild Alaska salmon.  They have helped members of Congress from across the country understand the dangers of GMO salmon and have enlisted more than 40 members of Congress to join our efforts to block Frankenfish.”

HJR 28 is designed to raise awareness about the importance of wild seafood and the commercial fishing industry while highlighting the concerns raised by many about the long term safety of consuming genetically engineered food products.  Not only does the resolution oppose the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of genetically engineered salmon, but it also calls for labeling of genetically modified food products and the restoration of wild salmon runs.

The fishing industry and fishing way of life in Alaska would be jeopardized with the inevitable, accidental release of transgenic fish into the wild.  In addition to the impact to the fishing industry, the long-term health effects of consuming genetically engineered salmon are unknown. 

HB 258 was referred to the House Special Committee on Fisheries and the Labor and Commerce Committee.  HJR 28 was referred to the House Special Committee on Fisheries and the Labor and Commerce Committee.

For more information, contact Rep. Tarr’s office at (907) 465-3424.

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