Pacific Salmon: Ecology and Management of Western Alaska’s Populations

Management Strategies for Sustainability of Salmon in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Region

K. Fiona Cubitt, Christopher I. Goddard, and Charles C. Krueger


Abstract.—This paper presents a synopsis of discussions by commercial and subsistence fishers, biologists, fishery managers, and academicians about salmon management held at the symposium (this volume). The group reviewed current strategies and discussed changes that may be made to improve management with respect to fish numbers, stakeholder needs, and engagement of local people. The conservation of salmon Oncorhynchus spp. was a shared value among all participants along with the belief that sustainable salmon yields will ensure sustainable rural communities within the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) region. Management by escapement goals was a useful management strategy; however, substantial concerns were expressed that high risks to salmon populations and fisheries existed when goals were based on maximum sustained yield concepts. Weekly in-season teleconferences among fishery participants and managers have provided important information, improved decision making, and built relationships and trust between managers and fishers. Traditional ecological knowledge was viewed as an important source of information and could be further incorporated into management decisions. Studies should be conducted to understand the nature of selective fishing on salmon (e.g., size, life history, sex), and its effects on the long-term sustainability of salmon populations. Allocation of subsistence harvest in times of salmon scarcity should recognize and prioritize human food as the highest use, then dog food, and last customary trade uses. Opportunities should be explored to increase interaction between freshwater and ocean managers to achieve a more holistic, ecosystem-based management of salmon stocks over their entire life history. Tensions exist within the fisheries including: commercial versus recreational versus subsistence fishers; downstream versus upstream fishers; and state versus federal management of subsistence fisheries. These tensions will continue to pose a challenge to management. With improved information, communication, and cooperation, successful management of AYK salmon is possible and will help ensure sustainability and opportunity for use by future human generations.