The conflict over subsistence has been brewing for a few decades.
Peltola served in the state House from 1999 until 2009. For the last five years, she’s led the Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fish Commission.
Tribal groups in Western Alaska submitted the petition following dismal chinook and chum salmon runs this summer.
The tribal groups signing the petition mostly represent areas of Alaska where salmon runs have crashed or declined dramatically in recent years.
The disaster declarations included one for the 2020 Southeast Alaska salmon fisheries.
It is still a mystery to state biologists why king and chum salmon numbers are decreasing in Western Alaska. But ask any local fishermen on the Kuskokwim, and they’ll likely tell you commercial fishing trawlers in the Bering Sea are the problem.
Bycatch rates are relatively low, but because trawlers catch so much of their target species, the unintended harvest adds up.
The word “confusion” came up a lot in a meeting with state and federal managers to describe the state’s June 28 Kuskokwim River opening.
State and the federal managers not only disagree on who has jurisdiction to manage the lower Kuskokwim salmon fishery, they disagree on the strength of the king salmon run.
State and federal fishery managers are waiting on more information to determine which government entity will have the authority to manage king salmon on the lower Kuskokwim River this summer.