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Herron Calls for Continued Monitoring and Management of Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim's DecliningSalmon Fisheries


Bethel representative pleased with recent inquiries and legislative outreach

Wednesday, October 21, 2009, Bethel, Alaska – Following on the heels of a pair of recent trips by government officials to the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, Rep. Bob Herron, D-Bethel, is calling for continued monitoring and improvements in the way the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game manages the areas salmon fisheries. Herron hopes to raise public awareness on the issue, which is damaging the region’s economy following the ban on commercial fishing in the Yukon earlier this year, and implementation of restrictions on subsistence fishing.

Salmon returns in the region have declined steadily over the 1990s and into the early 2000s and on a recent House Resources Committee trip to Bethel on the issue, legislators were briefed by ADF&G on its management practices, and also heard from residents about the hardships they’ve faced in light of the smaller runs and impact of the subsistence restrictions. Herron thinks the fact-finding trip, organized by House Resources Co-Chair Mark Neuman, R-Susitna Valley, was important. “We gave the committee a clear and compelling picture of the declining condition of our A/Y/K fisheries,” Herron said. “I’m pleased to note that committee members showed considerable interest in the Sustainable Salmon Initiative (SSI) money, and having ADF&G account for it. It’s a valuable partnership that deserves continued funding with institutions that cover not only the breadth of the region but also the scope of governmental agencies with a stake in the fisheries.”

The SSI is a cooperative research and restoration partnership that receives federal funding from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with the goal of reaching sustainable multi-use salmon returns by 2012.

Herron also lauded the work by Governor Sean Parnell’s administration in trying to secure federal disaster relief for Yukon River residents. “Governor Parnell recognizes the impact our fisheries’ health has on the economic and physical well-being of the entire region, but we’re still waiting for a decision from the U.S. Commerce Department. I was glad the governor reiterated his stance on the fisheries, and hope he carries that message with him to AFN and to his fisheries advisors and staff at ADF&G.

But Herron also noted that the Parnell administration could further help by changing ADF&G management policy and directives to bring input from the region into its considerations. “We must continue to highlight the importance of local involvement in management decisions,” Herron added. “There needs to be a greater willingness on behalf of the department to work with the people who depend on healthy returns for subsistence each year, and we can do that by including them in the decision-making process.”

Herron will be monitoring the issue and hopes to continue to raise its awareness heading into the second session of the 26th Alaska Legislature, set to begin in January.

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