Subsistence salmon survey underway in Unalaska
Surveyors with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are knocking on doors in Unalaska this week and asking questions about salmon.
Jackie Keating, a researcher with the department’s subsistence division, said teams are working to conduct 200 surveys, knocking on doors at random.
“We're interested in all kinds of ways that people get fish,” said Keating. “We do differentiate between methods, so we'll be able to tell if folks harvested from rod and reel or from subsistence or something like that. But it's meant to be a very holistic view of use of fish in the community.”
Individual data is kept anonymous and can reveal important trends.
The department’s last study showed salmon made up 42% of the subsistence harvest in Unalaska, according to subsistence division researcher Chance Wilcox.
“Subsistence is a way of life for rural Alaska,” said Wilcox. “We want to be able to accurately portray what that looks like and then be able to make better decisions.”
For one example, Keating said past survey data factored into the 2016 decision to close Unalaska Bay to commercial trawling, in an effort to protect subsistence.
“It really comes out to play in the regulatory arena,” said Keating. “Like the folks who want to put in a Board of Fish proposal or some sort of federal fisheries proposal — having that long-term data set can be really beneficial.”
The department will host meetings in Unalaska this fall to review the collected data. Then survey results will also be published.