Welcome Address to the American Fisheries Society Symposium on Partnerships for a Common Purpose: Cooperative Fisheries Research and Management
Mary C. Pete
I am pleased to welcome you to Alaska and to this timely session. The American Fisheries Society’s conference is one of the biggest professional gatherings that Alaska hosts; this is appropriate since fish and fishing is big in Alaska. I want to thank the Sea Grant program for convening this symposium on partnerships in research and management.
A few words about my background, which forms my perspective in this address, are in order. I am a cultural anthropologist with more than 20 years of applied social science research experience. Most of that experience is in documenting subsistence hunting and fishing patterns and harvest levels in order to help the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and the state and federal management boards implement the state and federal subsistence priority laws. For the most recent 10 years until this past June, I directed the Division of Subsistence of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the state. The division is the social science research arm of the ADF&G—the only such agency in the nation. It employs mostly anthropologists, such as me, who work closely with management divisions, whose personnel are mostly biologists. As division director, I also chaired the U.S. delegation in the U.S./Canada Yukon River salmon treaty process, and once a long-term agreement was forged, I chaired the U.S. section of the bilateral panel charged with implementing the treaty. Treaty negotiations over Yukon River salmon had protracted over 16 years and were finalized in 2001. All of this experience required varying levels and types of cooperation and collaboration with constituents.
The singular importance of fish in this state is manifested in many ways. This is a state of superlatives— biggest in land mass with the longest coastline. Statewide, subsistence, commercial, and sport fisheries effectively require important industries and cooperative research and management efforts. Economically, the state fish tax is of vital importance to communities that rely on it for government support. I want to focus in on a few Alaska fish facts to underscore the significance of fish.