Alaska holds 40 percent of the nation's fresh water resources and more coastline than the Lower 48 combined. The state remains home to some of the cleanest waters, healthiest salmon runs, and wild, abundant seafood left in the world. These resources, at the heart of our economy, culture, and way of life, are what make Alaska strong.
Alaska needs to act now to safeguard these precious resources for generations to come. Sign the petition asking the State of Alaska and EPA to protect our clean water.
The Clean Water Act gives states tools to protect their water. One of these tools – the Human Heath Criteria - sets out a formula that helps protect human health by limiting the levels of bioaccumlative toxins that can be dumped into fresh and near-shore waters. A key factor in the formula is how much fish and seafood a state's residents eat. The more seafood a population eats, the theory goes, the more protective the water quality standards should be.
The State of Alaska has arbitrarily set this number outrageously low ignoring the reality that many, many Alaskans subsist on wild, healthy seafood. In fact, Alaska's "Fish Consumption Rate" - currently listed as 6.5 grams of fish per person per day (about the size of a small strawberry) - is among the lowest in the nation. Other states including Washington and Oregon have or are in the process of adjusting their fish consumption rate to a more realistic175 grams/person/day. Some Alaska Native communities have found that 250 grams/person/day is a more accurate figure estimate of the amount of fish they eat.
Raising Alaska’s Fish Consumption Rate to 175 grams/person/day and changing the “acceptable cancer rate” used in the Human Health Criteria formula from one case of cancer in 100,000 to one in a million will help protect our clean water.
If you want to stand up for Alaska's clean water, safe seafood, and healthy communities, you can start by letting our officials know that "We Eat Fish!"
How else can I get involved?
• Find out what’s happening in other states
• Read the Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about what’s happening in Alaska
• Request a DVD and action kit to share this information with your community or download our action kit right now.
Here’s a look at what 6.5 grams of fish per day actually looks like.
Here’s how the process works
The fish and shellfish we eat are only as healthy as the water they live in and the water is only as clean as the water quality standards set to protect it. Development in the form of roads, mines, oil and gas extraction, and urbanization provides a public benefit and as such, is allowed to degrade our naturally clean water. Dumping toxins into our state’s pristine waters is allowed as long as the water quality standards are not exceeded in the river, estuary or sea being used.
The water quality standards for the most dangerous cancer-causing toxins--PCB’s, dioxins, and heavy metals such as lead and mercury--are based on the amount of seafood (fish) residents eat because eating fish is the most direct pathway for these toxins to enter our bodies. There is an inverse relationship between the amount of fish we eat and the water quality standard for these carcinogens; the more fish we eat, the less toxins allowed to be dumped into our waters. It makes sense then that one of the variables used to determine the water quality standard for these toxins is the amount of fish we eat.
The Fish Consumption Rate the state currently uses to set these standards is 6.5 grams/person/day (about the size of a small strawberry) or one 7 ounce meal per month. Anyone who lives in Alaska and especially those in rural coastal communities know that salmon, halibut, hooligan, crab, seaweed and marine mammals comprise as much as 80 percent of people’s diet.
The Alaska Department of Conservation (DEC) has acknowledged that the Fish Consumption Rate is too low – but has no plans to change it in the next 3 years. What’s more, DEC continues to say that one case of cancer in 100,000 is ok instead of a more protective one in a million.
Using an inaccurate Fish Consumption Rate that is not reflective of what Alaskans actually eats and a high Rate of Acceptable Cancer benefits polluters at the expense of human health.