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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon Appendix B Visits and Meetings of the NRC Committee BETHEL: 27 SEPTEMBER 2003 Testimony was heard from representatives of the Kuskokwim Salmon Working Group, the Association of Village Council Presidents, Alaska Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kuskokwim Fisheries Resources Coalition, Federal Regional Advisory Council, Bering Sea Fisherman’s Association, and the Lower Kuskokwim Advisory Council. The concept of “THE FOOD” was presented to the committee, meaning that salmon was far more than just one of the items eaten by the native community. Salmon is “THE FOOD.” There was concern that the future was uncertain because human populations are growing and salmon populations might be shrinking. Therefore, the pressures on the subsistence salmon fishery are increasing. While in-season fishery management is needed we are “Fishing in scientific darkness.” It is essential that we coordinate the research efforts for the AYK region to maximize the gains in knowledge. Concerns were expressed about the problems resulting from management decisions by Alaska Fish and Game. Boat traffic within spawning grounds was cited as a potential cause for decreased salmon populations. Mention was made of the changing ecosystem due to climate change—i.e., the warming of bottom waters on the shelf of the eastern Bering Sea—though there have been some episodic events of shorter duration such as cold spells and El Niño events superimposed on the long-term changes.
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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon BETHEL: 28 SEPTEMBER 2003 A meeting with the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Scientific and Technical Committee and Steering Committee was conducted with participation by many village elders. Concern was expressed for the ability of the salmon populations to sustain themselves. ST. MARY’S: 29 SEPTEMBER 2003 Testimony was presented by representatives of Algaaciq Tribal Government, the Federal Regional Advisory Council, Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, Lower Yukon River communities, Emmonak Tribal Council, Nerklikmut Native Corporation Andrefski, Alaska Fish and Game, and Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association. The discussion of upstream versus downstream fisheries led to issues of intercepts by offshore fisheries and bycatch. Conflicts between subsistence fisheries were outlined, including changing the timing and duration of the windows for the intercept fishery either within the river system or in the open ocean. Concerns about the changing ecosystem were expressed, including the recent abundance of eels, beluga whales, and jellyfish in Bering Sea coastal waters. Increased populations of beavers were cited as a possible cause for the demise of the salmon populations. It was believed that Alaska Fish and Game was making a concerted effort to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into their management decisions. Is the climate changing? The community hosted a potluck dinner. ANIAK: 30 SEPTEMBER 2003 Representatives of the Kuskokwim Native Association, Alaska State Legislature, Middle and Upper Kuskokwim River communities, Central Kuskokwim State Advisory Committee, Alaska Fish and Game, and individual citizens gave testimony. They expressed concern about erosion of the way of life. There are conflicts between commercial fishing and mining communities and subsistence fishers. This is divided further by the differences between the upstream and downstream fishing communities. Problems with spawning grounds were mentioned including jet boats, beavers, and spot fishers. Open ocean conditions were con-
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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon sidered a threat to the salmon fisheries such as the carrying capacity of the North Pacific, increases in the pollock populations in the Bering Sea, and the effectiveness of the False Pass fishery in diverting salmon resources. It was believed that the knowledge of the village elders was being ignored in the scientific and management programs. The community hosted a potluck dinner. ANCHORAGE: 18-21 NOVEMBER 2003 AYK SALMON WORKSHOP An assessment of the current state of knowledge of salmon ecology and life history in the AYK region was made with presentations. Information gaps were identified and the AYK symposium for 2005 was organized. FAIRBANKS: 22-23 JANUARY 2004 Several committee members attended the Tanana Chiefs Conference Natural Resources Coalition to meet with natural resources professionals working in the Tanana region. Upriver-downriver issues were discussed, in particular, the effects of downriver commercial fishing on subsistence fishing upriver. The effects of ocean fishing on river fishing also were discussed. NOME: 2 FEBRUARY 2004 Members gave testimony of the Nome Eskimo and King Island Native Communities. Representatives of Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation and Kawerak, Inc., and government agencies (Alaska Fish and Game and National Parks Service) made presentations. Comments were presented about the historical developments around Nome including mining, dog teams, and the introduction of modern fishing techniques. The use of hatcheries to increase fish returns was discussed. Potential causes for the decrease in salmon populations were suggested such as False Pass interceptions, beaver dams, and jellyfish predation. A holistic approach to the scientific studies of salmon was endorsed including early life histories, nutrient cycles, and climate; the
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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon collaboration of research programs was encouraged. It was emphasized that subsistence fishing was a way of life in this region. The community hosted a potluck dinner for committee and participants. UNALAKLEET: 3 FEBRUARY 2004 Members of the Unalakleet and White Mountain IRA Councils, the Unalalkleet Native Corporation, Southern Norton Sound Advisory Committee, Bering Sea Fisherman’s Association, Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation, Kawerak, Inc., and Alaska Department of Fish and Game gave testimony. The False Pass (Area M) intercept fishery was cited as a potential cause for the decrease in salmon returns for this region. Increases in beaver populations have changed the stream conditions. There seems to be more vegetation on the sea floor, more stream erosion, and less permafrost. Science is becoming more popular in the region and there is the development of a youth program for environmental monitoring. An ecosystem approach was endorsed for the salmon studies. Generally, biological escapement goals were viewed unfavorably. Concern was expressed about the conflict between economics and culture. A community potluck dinner was held. ANCHORAGE: 4-6 FEBRUARY 2004 A committee drafting session of the interim report was held.
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