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Murkowski Visits Kuskokwim River Fish Camps, Talks to Residents About Subsistence Fishing

Senator To Take Information, Experiences to DC for Upcoming Subsistence Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC — Fresh from her weekend trip to fish camps up and down the Kuskokwim River, Senator Lisa Murkowski committed to the Alaskans she spent time with that she would share the information she gathered with her colleagues in the United States Senate.  While boating along the Kuskokwim, residents talked with her about salmon shortages, subsistence fishing regulations and enforcement, as well as the impacts of high gas prices on their food gathering. 

Sen. Murkowski traveled by riverboat to nine subsistence fish camps from Bethel to Chuathbaluk to talk to Alaskans about this year’s salmon run, see the impacts of low numbers last year and how residents are coping.  The traditional camps, located near Bethel, Akiak, Akiachak, Kwethluk, Kalskag, Aniak and Chuathbaluk, serve as both an important food source and cultural training ground for many Native families. 

Sen. Murkowski stops to talk to people on the Kuskokwim River just above Bethel as she visits fish camps along the river banks.

“It was so important for me to see what goes into subsistence salmon fishing first hand,” said Sen. Murkowski.  “Families come together across generations to fish, then work for weeks to dry, salt, and smoke their catch for the rest of the year.  All their hard work is truly amazing to see.  Unfortunately, historically low salmon runs, especially King salmon, have really impacted these families and their traditional fishing.  But, people are adapting- taking more of one species to allow the other better escapement, and I am seeing a true partnership up and down the Kuskokwim to ensure these salmon are around for generations more to come.” 

smokehouse sg

Click on the image above for video of Sen. Murkowski touring Eric Morgan’s salmon smokehouse near his home in Chuathbaluk, AK.

Many families spend weeks in their fish camps, but high gas prices are impacting others and their ability to fish and stay in the traditional camps.  One family in Chuathbaluk told the Senator due to fewer salmon in the river it now takes as many as a dozen passes with a boat and a drift net to catch what they used to get in just one drift, and each time, they would be forced to burn expensive gas.

Sen. Murkowski ducks below drying fish at the YKHC Mccann Treatment Center’s fish camp above Bethel

The fish camp visits come three months after Sen. Murkowski held subsistence public meetings in Bethel and Glennallen to hear from Alaskans firsthand about their subsistence traditions, concerns and priorities.  She will take the information gathered at those meetings, as well as from the fish camp trip, back with her to Washington, DC for a Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee hearing this fall on subsistence in Alaska.   

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Sen. Murkowski visits with Carl and Angie Morgan and Nancy and Carlton Morgan at their fish camp on the Kuskokwim River between Kalskag and Aniak

 

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