By Joel Markis, Sitka Fisheries Technology Faculty
UAS Fish Tech delegation at Federal Subsistence Board meeting in Anchorage.
Seven students in the University of Alaska Southeast’s Fisheries Technology program got a unique experience in fisheries policy recently. Students attended the Federal Subsistence Board meeting in Anchorage where they examined fisheries proposals, witnessed testimony and deliberation, and learned about fisheries policy. The Federal Subsistence Board meets every year to make decisions regarding subsistence issues on Federal public lands and waters in Alaska. Fisheries issues are deliberated during odd years and wildlife issues are tackled on even years.
This is the third year UAS has brought students to view the proceedings. Each student selects and follows a proposal that has meaning in their lives. A daunting process to the uninitiated, the students are mentored each year by USFS subsistence biologists Terry Suminski and Justin Koller who lead them through the process from proposal to decision. This year students experienced two landmark decisions regarding subsistence fisheries resources. During this cycle, the Board authorized the use of a single gillnet by the community of Ninilchik on both the Kenaiand Kasilof Rivers and closed Federal public waters near Sitka to the harvest of herring and herring spawn except by federally qualified subsistence users. Both of these decisions were heavily deliberated and provided a great opportunity for students to gain an understanding of the Federal board process and how proposals come to life, are amended, and ultimately decided.
UAS partnered with the USDA Forest Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture to bring students from a variety of communities and fisheries backgrounds to participate in the three day meeting. Students took away the importance of understanding the Board process and how fishery policy impacts their lives and the lives of those in their communities. “This is a unique opportunity for students to actually see how proposals move through the Federal Board process and see how open this process is in the state of Alaska, said Joel Markis, UAS Assistant Professor of Fisheries Technology. Next year plans are in place for students from rural communities across Alaska, including students enrolled in the Tribal Management degree programto attend and follow the process for decisions on managing wildlife.
For more information on the Federal SubsistenceBoard, contact Deborah Coble 907-786-3880, UAS Fish Tech program contact Joel Markis or course contact Jan Straley at 1-877-465-4827