Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
In-season subsistence harvest assessment of Yukon River salmon
Alaska Region, June 29, 2004
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In cooperation with several partners, the Koyukuk-Nowitna NWR began in-season surveys of subsistence salmon harvest along the Yukon river this summer. Local technicians hired by non-governmental, tribal, or agency personnel conduct the surveys in-person with local fishers. The project is intended to gather consistent information from a diverse group of fishers, and determine how they are progressing towards meeting their subsistence needs throughout the season. This information, gathered on a drainage-wide level, is anonymously shared with state and federal managers as a tool for making subsistence fisheries management decisions. The information is also shared with other subsistence users, tribal organizations, communities, and agencies during the weekly Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association (YRDFA) teleconferences. When fisheries managers know how people are progressing toward meeting their subsistence needs, they have more complete information upon which to make decisions. Subsistence salmon openings must balance the biological need to ensure escapement and future population viability with the present need for subsistence fishing opportunity. Likewise, if escapement and all subsistence needs are being met, decision makers can provide for other consumptive harvests, such as commercial openings, if warranted.

2004 is the third year of a pilot project aimed at expanding the in-season survey to the entire Yukon River drainage. In addition to Koyukuk/Nowitna NWR, this year, the cooperators are Emmonak Tribal Council, Louden Tribal Council, Innoko NWR, Yukon Flats NWR, and the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association. This project, which started with local Refuge Information Technicians working with local tribal organizations to gather quantitative information, has the potential to strengthen partnerships among tribes and agencies in making natural resources management decisions. The in-season subsistence salmon harvest survey not only enhances the management decision process, but it strengthens communication and promotes interaction among subsistence users, tribes, organizations, communities, and the managing agencies. For further information contact Subsistence Coordinator Geoff Beyersdorf (geoff_beyersdorf@fws.gov).

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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