The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly has added its voice to those communities, tribes and other organizations opposing summer maneuvers by the U.S. Navy in the Gulf of Alaska.
Before the 4-to-2 vote on Thursday night, the assembly heard a presentation by Emily Stolarcyk of the Eyak Preservation Council in Cordova. She said while it’s true naval training the Gulf has happened before, it hasn’t happened on this scale:
“They were held off in 2012 and 2013 by NRDC and then it didn’t happen in 2014 because of sequestration,” she said. “So this is the last year, and so understandably, the Navy would really like to do these trainings.”
Stolarcyk appealed to the assembly’s desire to protect fisheries in her argument against the summer training.
“No one is saying ‘Don’t train.’ Everybody understands the need for training. What we’re saying is the timing of this training, to have it start June 15th, when we really have millions of salmon migrating through this area to their streams, to their rivers, is really poor timing,” Stolarcyk said. “We’d like to actually see it moved to a different time of year that doesn’t coincide with any fishign season, and we’d also like to see them moved 200 miles off shore.”
One of the dissenting votes came from Assemblyman Aaron Griffin. At the end of the meeting, Griffin, who served in the Air Force in Alaska, explained his vote:
“We bombed the crap out of Interior Alaska. That was a an environmental impact of that, no doubt. But I wanted my pilots to be ready to rock and roll when Russia decided we were going to be like the Ukraine,” Griffin said. “And that is really what the Navy is looking to do. They are preparing for what happens if things don’t go so well in the arctic.”
Assemblyman Larry LeDoux also voted against the resolution, which passed 4-to-2. In addition to asking the Navy to postpone its Gulf training until after the middle of September, it asks that the Navy not use live ordinance or sonar in protected marine areas.