Thursday, June 15, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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The Alaska connection

Special to The Seattle Times

Since the early days, Seattle has profited mightily from the bountiful natural resources of Alaska. Two visitor attractions underscore this relationship, past and present. One is the Klondike Gold Rush Park and museum in Pioneer Square, which documents how Seattle, in the late 1890s, benefited from the tens of thousands of goldseekers who, by law, had to outfit themselves with a ton of supplies per person (enough to last for a year), and ship them up the coast to Skagway or Dyea. The other attraction is Fishermen's Terminal, the winter home for a fleet of nearly 700 commercial fishing vessels, whose owners rely on Alaska salmon and halibut for their livelihoods. Why don't they fish off the Washington coast, hundreds of miles closer than Alaska? You guessed it: The local salmon stocks are severely depleted, due to a number of causes including overfishing. And why do they moor at Fishermen's Terminal? Because it's in fresh water, which doesn't corrode boat hulls as severely as salt water does.

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