Subsistence Harvest Surveys: Participate!
It’s the best thing you can do to protect your subsistence practices.
By Doug Molyneaux (retired ADF&G fisheries biologist)
Crews from Alaska Department of Fish and Game and various partner organizations will be knocking on your door soon asking you to participate in the annual post-season subsistence salmon surveys. Participating in this survey is voluntary, but it is one of the best things you can do to help ensure your future subsistence fishing opportunity. To the best of your ability, provide the surveyor with complete and accurate information. AND, turn in your subsistence harvest calendars too, either to the surveyor or in the mail, because the calendars provide a different type of information that is particularly useful in answering a specific set of questions related to protecting your subsistence practices.
Not everyone will be asked to participate. Trying to survey everyone is just not practical. Instead, the surveyors follow a sampling design that targets surveying some percentage of each community, which is then expanded to estimate harvest for the entire community. If they do knock on your door, participate.
Results from the surveys and calendars are of great importance in safeguarding your subsistence opportunity. The information is used to document just how important subsistence is to the people of the Yukon and Kuskokwim, and this plays significantly into a wide variety of decisions made by state and federal fishery managers, and by your elected officials. This past January results from the post-season surveys were the primary basis to justify increasing the formal “Amounts Necessary for Subsistence” adopted by the Board of Fisheries for the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers. This “ANS” ruling determines how much salmon must be allocated from the salmon runs each year to meet subsistence needs. Other issues that the survey addresses is whether subsistence needs are being met in communities throughout the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers, whether patterns of subsistence harvest are changing that warrant altering regulations, and whether management actions intended to ensure adequate subsistence opportunity are indeed working.
Fishery managers and other State and Federal officials routinely make decisions on these issues, and those decisions affect you, your family, and your community. At question is whether they will be enlightened decisions based on complete and accurate information provided by you, or whether they will be ignorant decision made in a void of information because of people who chooses not to participate in the surveys, or whether they will be erroneous decisions based on false or inaccurate information. You are the one who decides which path is taken.
The three pie charts associated with this article are examples of the type of information provided by the post-season subsistence harvest surveys. The charts show the percentage of Alaska subsistence harvest for kings, chum, and coho salmon from the Kuskokwim Area, Yukon Area, Northwest Alaska (Norton Sound, Kotzebue, and Port Clarence), and the remainder of Alaska. The charts show just how important subsistence salmon harvest is to residents of the Yukon and Kuskowkim rivers, an important message to government officials.
Choose to participate. It is in your best interest.