Add tribal governments to the list of those concerned about large-scale mining near the Canadian border.
They said an open-pit copper and gold mine planned for northeast of Ketchikan could threaten hooligan, also known as eulachon or candlefish.
Andre LeCornu is a member of the Ketchikan Indian Community’s tribal council. He said few of the oil-rich fish return to the area now. And mining discharges could make it worse.
“Hooligans are a huge part of who we are. Hooligan grease and hooligan themselves are an integral part of our diet and our trade and commerce,” LeCornu said.
Toronto-based Seabridge Gold is developing what’s called the KSM (Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell) mine. It’s near a tributary of the Unuk River, which flows into Behm Canal near Ketchikan.
The mine was not before the subsistence board. But LeCornu said the panel should be aware of an issue it could hear about later.
Mine owners have said they will build with care and follow water-quality and other environmental regulations.
Tlingit-Haida Central Council Executive Council member Rob Sanderson Junior told the subsistence board that’s not enough.
“British Columbia pretty much has been sold off to large mining companies. So the central council looks for balance in this area,” Sanderson said.
He said federal and state officials should pursue water-quality protections through a transboundry waters treaty with Canada.
Low returns caused the Forest Service to close the subsistence hooligan fishery in the area earlier this year to protect the population.