Who Manages the Fisheries?

There are many players involved in the management of salmon in the Kuskokwim River drainage.  We will provide some information for each of the key players below.    

On the Kuskokwim River, there is a boundary line near Aniak that separates federal ownership from state ownership. (The pink area on the map shown represents the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge).  In the entire State of Alaska, authority is given to ADF&G to manage fisheries.  Even on federal refuge waters, the FWS has delegated management authority to ADF&G through a Memorandum of Understanding.  Only under special action and with justification can USFWS take back that authority. In these times, it can become quite confusing about who to get information from for what part of the River.  

A basic understanding of all of the groups involved and how their information is disseminated can help immensely. 

The State of Alaska

Alaska Board of Fisheries

Advisory Committees

The Alaska Board of Fisheries consists of seven members serving three-year terms. Members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislature. The Board of Fisheries’ main role is to conserve and develop the fishery resources of the state. This involves setting seasons, bag limits, methods and means for the state’s subsistence, commercial, sport, guided sport, and personal use fisheries, and it also involves setting policy and direction for the management of the state’s fishery resources. The board is charged with making allocative decisions, and the department is responsible for management based on those decisions.

Advisory committees are the local groups authorized by state law to provide recommendations to the boards on hunting & fishing issues.  Meetings are always open to the public and are generally attended by department staff and members of the public who can offer background information on agenda topics. Advisory Committees are intended to provide a local forum on fish and wildlife issues, and are critical policy bodies to the boards. The two advisory Committees for this region are the Central Kuskokwim  & Stony/Holitna Committees.

Alaska Department of Fish & Game

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game is responsible for the management of the fisheries based on the decisions made by the Board of Fish.  They follow the most up to date Kuskowim River Salmon Management Plan and use a variety of in-season tools to manage the fisheries. The current contact information for management staff in the region can be found here.  

The Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group

As defined by ADF&G: The Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group (KRSMWG) was formed in 1988 by the Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) in response to requests from stakeholders in the Kuskokwim Area who sought a more active role in the management of salmon fishery resources.

The Working Group is a State of Alaska in-season advisory group made up of 13 member seats representing elders, subsistence fishermen, processors, commercial fishermen, sport fishermen, member at large, federal subsistence regional advisory committees, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. 

The interactions among Working Group members, research planners, project leaders, and policy makers are critical to the aim of the Working Group. A good relationship among all will ensure that participants remain up-to-date on new information and maintain their direct involvement in management of Kuskokwim River salmon fisheries.

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The Federal Government

The Office of Subsistence Management is a branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created to support the Federal Subsistence Board and the Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils. 

Federal Subsistence Board

Regional Advisory Committees

The Federal Subsistence Board is the decision-making body that oversees the Federal Subsistence Management Program. It is made up of the regional directors of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Forest Service, and there are three public members appointed by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture: two represent rural subsistence users and one is the Federal Subsistence Board chairman. The Secretaries have delegated the authority to manage fish and wildlife for subsistence uses on Federal public lands and waters in Alaska to the Federal Subsistence Board.  

The Federal Subsistence Board has Regional Advisory Committees: information about the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Advisory Committee can be found here.

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Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fish Commission

An excerpt from an article written in the summer of 2016 by the KRITFC Interim Director, LaMont Albertson, not long after KRITFC's inception is quoted below.  It does a good job of describing this group and their mission.

Watch Video 5 in the Fisheries Video Series to hear from those who were involved in spearheading this effort.

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Over the decades there has been much conversation about creating a citizen organization which had meaningful influence on fisheries management of the Kuskokwim River. 

In what was to be a long term evolutionary process, the Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fish Commission (KRITFC) was set up in the spring of 2015. The organization went on to sign a binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in May of 2016, and hired an interim Director, LaMont Albertson, the first of June 2016.

Commissioners from thirty three villages, representing seven districts, were appointed and from them three in- season managers were selected to work closely with the USFWS. The in season managers along with refuge staff and representatives from ADF&G, met weekly throughout the 2016 season. KRITFC Commissioners played a key role in those consultations in determining openings and closures for the summer’s subsistence fishing for Chinook salmon.

What the KRITFC would like to see is full participatory governance in determining the harvest of the Kuskokwim’s salmon resources. The KRITFC looks forward to the time when the State of Alaska becomes more involved in the co management process. Distributive and shared decision making are hallmarks of co management and should lead to conservative, precautionary management of the river’s valuable subsistence resources.

Photo by Jonathan Samuelson, Georgetown Commissioner

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