Haines Fishermen’s Alliance to advocate for salmon, habitat in face of large mine

A new Haines fishermen’s group called the Haines Fishermen’s Alliance will work to advocate for salmon and salmon habitat.

“It is a group of fishermen outside of the group that was already started and has been around for many, many years, which is the Lynn Canal Gillnetters Association— a group of like-minded people who have serious questions about having a large-scale industrial mine above the watershed that is feeding our industry, our fish,” said Haines resident JR Churchill, who helped form the group.

The alliance was formed to counter development of a large-scale hard rock mine from what is now exploration at the Palmer Project by Canadian company Constantine Metal Resources Limited.

Churchill is a longtime member of Lynn Canal Gillnetters association and led the group for many years.

He recently moved away from leadership in that group to work on advocating for salmon and against large-scale mining in the Chilkat and Klehini watersheds.

He said the alliance does not plan to form a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

They will be working on advocacy for salmon and salmon habitat.

“It is a group that will be taking a public stance concerning mining issues, whether it is writing letters or doing something like this [talking to the press] or even going further and looking at what legal avenues maybe could be explored or any way that we can have influence over what kind of mine potentially that becomes and/or putting in some safeguards for habitat,” Churchhill said.

Churchill added that the group started out with commercial fishermen, but hopes to eventually include sport and subsistence fishermen, too.

Another fishing group, Northern Southeast Gillnetters, formed earlier this year in Haines as a response to fishermen not feeling represented by the United Southeast Alaska Gillnetter Association.

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