Law Enforcement Seized Subsistence Fish During Kuskokwim River Ban


by Russ Slaten

Federal and state officials seized 21 fishing nets and over 1,000 pounds of salmon from subsistence fishermen in the Kuskokwim River on Wednesday.

The seizure comes during a subsistence closure in the lower Kuskokwim River. Federal officials said this year's salmon run is much lower than expected.

State and federal wildlife law enforcement conducted a joint operation on Wednesday to enforce conservation measures. During the course of the day, state wildlife troopers and US Fish and Wildlife officers handed out 33 citations, each equivalent to a criminal misdemeanor.

A little over a thousand pounds of confiscated salmon went to local charities, troopers said.

The native communities of Tuntutuliak and Akiak, who traditionally rely on salmon as a food source, issued statements encouraging residents to fish despite the government ban.

The Association of Village Council Presidents plans to meet next week to request that the state issue a disaster declaration in the region.

After experiencing low king salmon counts in the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers last season, federal wildlife officials predicted a poor to below-average run this season. Officials expected this year to see between 109,000 to 146,000 king salmon in the Yukon River, well below the average 200,000.

Test fisheries most recently reported seeing only 25 percent of the numbers of king salmon encountered at this point in 2010.

"State and federal managers predicted last winter that this would be a bad year, and the people along the river have known that. We've been communicating that with them regularly, but it's worse than we thought, at least unless the run is very late," said US Fish & Wildlife Service Spokesperson Bruce Woods.

Limiting subsistence is not made lightly, meant to conserve fish for healthier runs in the future, said US Fish and Wildlife Service officials.

Beginning today, subsistence fishermen are given a three-day opening to use a net no larger than 6-inches in diameter to fish for sockeye and chum salmon in the lower Kuskokwim River, giving fishermen more opportunities upriver as the runs make their way.

On the lower Yukon River, subsistence harvest was closed Wednesday and the state will notify fishermen by Sunday, when the next harvest period opens.

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Ed j. said on Saturday, Sep 29 at 11:43 AM

The terminal area fishery should not bare the brunt of conservation.this is federal law in lower 48. Impacts are spread through entire fishery.incidental or targeted.also tbey should be accounted for in high seas trawl fishery.halibut too!

Yeilkaa said on Wednesday, Jun 27 at 8:31 PM

we may have done this to ourselves,being so corporate and forgetting to truly live a subsistant life rather than an urban style of living some of us are getting to use to living.I don't want to be telling my grandchildren remember when...look back to look at our forward mistakes,regulations and resolutions to the needs and wants of not just a few in the end but all that are NATIVE,and non native alike but to the majority involved it is the NATIVES that in the end when trying to help,only ended up hurting ourselves think about it.......

Eugene said on Tuesday, Jun 26 at 4:38 PM

I felt sorry for the state government taking away food from the hungry native people for subsistence that they have practiced for many generation, even prior to statehood. The practice of segregation still exits among native communities today.

1sayeroftruth said on Monday, Jun 25 at 7:36 AM

And now for the rest of the story. The fish and wildlife enforcement groups will have plenty of salmon jerky to sale this year. It's to bad the government has the right to take a fish from a hungry family. And then if the family earns enough to pay rent and keep themselves warm. They can't even receive food stamps. The time we live in is coming to massive starvation around the world.

P.J.Ellis said on Saturday, Jun 23 at 7:15 AM

Does U.S.Fish & Wildlife understand subsistence. Do they understand hunger while they live in their nice warm houses with their well paid salaries.

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