Alaska Salmon Research Task Force Act is first step in tackling devastating decline in salmon
Posted and edited by MARY KAUFFMAN
December 24, 2021
(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska – U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski (both R-Alaska) presented the Alaska Salmon Research Working Group Act , legislation that would form a group of Alaskan salmon research stakeholders and experts to study trends in Pacific salmon and create a coordinated research strategy for Pacific salmon in Alaska to support management some salmon. The research working group would be tasked with conducting a comprehensive review of Pacific salmon science relevant to understanding and managing salmon returns to Alaska, and to publish a report, within one year of its meeting. , to provide recommendations identifying knowledge and research gaps and other research priorities for salmon in Alaska.
The proposed legislation came just days after a two-day salmon roundtable that the Alaska Congressional delegation hosted with a panel of Native Alaskan leaders and state and federal officials. During the Salmon Roundtable, Alaska Indigenous leaders from the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Unalakleet and Chignik regions spoke about the impacts that issues such as climate change and bycatch of salmon have on local runs of wild salmon, which have returned to record levels in recent years. .
âAs shared at the Salmon Roundtable, we are at a critical juncture for the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Unalakleet and Chignik watersheds. Dozens of native Alaskan communities face a long winter without salmon and a potential future without salmon. We can’t allow this in Alaska – not under our watch, âsaid Tim Bristol, executive director of SalmonState. âAnd it’s not just these watersheds where the salmon struggle; we’re seeing low salmon returns across much of the state and it’s wreaking havoc on Alaskan fishermen, businesses and local communities.
âWe applaud the senators for taking an important first step in ensuring that Alaska remains a place where wild salmon and the people who depend on them thrive. We hope their bill gets passed quickly and we look forward to seeing what recommendations come out of the task force. In the meantime, we encourage senators and state and federal agencies to use the research and information already available, and deploy immediate measures that we know will help the wild Alaskan salmon: protect the most valuable salmon watersheds. more productive Alaska, integrate indigenous knowledge into management decisions, minimize potential salmon bycatch, and invest in salmon habitat restoration and climate resilience.
âIt’s hard to overstate the importance of salmon to Alaska, our communities, our economy and our traditional way of life. In recent years, Alaskans in parts of the state have witnessed strong historic returns of salmon, while Alaskans in other areas have experienced shocking and unprecedented declines, âsaid Senator Sullivan. âOur existing management system, with the state authority to manage the Alaskan salmon harvest and the federal government managing the federal fishery salmon harvest and much of the research at sea, created a clear gap in research and research prioritization that urgently needs to be filled. This crisis deserves the combined attention of our state and federal governments, and the expertise of our greatest scientific minds, as well as the Indigenous communities that have harvested salmon for millennia. With this legislation, we would establish a body to broaden our understanding, identify knowledge gaps and ultimately lead us to concrete policies and management decisions which we hope will bring increased abundance and stability to our stocks of salmon for the benefit of all Alaskans.
âIt has been said that the summer season does not arrive in coastal and riverine communities in Alaska until the salmon arrive. In some areas, we are not only seeing a decline in salmon runs but also a collapse that is hurting not only local economies but also the culture and spirit of the people in the area. It is clear that we need to deepen our understanding of salmon and their ecosystems in these times of rapid change. I am proud to join Senator Sullivan in the Alaska Salmon Research Taskforce Act, as we seek to identify and strengthen the science needed to chart the way forward to ensure the prosperity of these essential species, âsaid the Senator Murkowski. âI also continue to welcome feedback from affected community members and groups on how best to target research funding and craft policy to identify and mitigate the drivers of these declines and ensure the vitality of Alaska salmon fisheries for future generations. â
The research working group would be made up of 13 to 19 members, with the secretary of commerce appointing a representative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the US section of the Pacific Salmon Commission. The secretary would also appoint between two and five representatives from Alaska spanning the state’s wide range of fisheries actors, including subsistence users and commercial or recreational users. Finally, the secretary would appoint five university experts in salmon biology, management and ecology or in marine research. The governor of Alaska would appoint a state representative.
The bill also directs the research task force to establish a task force specifically focused on salmon returns to the AYK region of western and interior Alaska, where return failures of salmon have had devastating effects, and provides flexibility for the research working group to establish other geographic areas. targeted working groups.
On the Web:
Salmon Roundtable Portal – Submit your comments to Senator Murkowski
Office of US Senator Lisa Murkowski
Office of US Senator Dan Sullivan
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