updated 8/28/2008 7:56:10 PM ET 2008-08-28T23:56:10

Alaskans were given an option when voting for an initiative in their primary election: mining or fish.

They chose mining.

With more than 84 percent of votes tallied early Wednesday, the measure was declared dead with more than 57 percent of voters rejecting it.

The ballot measure would have imposed two water quality standards on any new large-scale mines in Alaska. Had it passed, it would have restricted large, new mines from releasing toxic pollutants into water that would adversely affect the health of humans or salmon.

Opponents of the initiative say if it had passed, it would have killed large-scale mining in Alaska.

Supporters said the initiative was needed to save wild salmon streams from the Pebble Mine, a huge copper and gold deposit poised for development near Bristol Bay.

Renee Limoge, spokeswoman for Alaskans Against the Mining Shutdown, said what voters understood was that the ballot measure would have affected other mines, not just Pebble.

"We are thrilled that Alaskan voters have spoken and they have made it clear that mining is part of our history in the state and part of our future," she said.

Opponents claimed that the initiative posed a serious threat to Alaska's economy. They say mining accounts for over 5,500 jobs and nearly $200 million a year in state and local tax revenues.

Supporters said the bigger threat is to the Bristol Bay salmon fishery, which they say provides over 12,000 jobs and contributes over $250 million annually to Alaska's economy.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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