OPINION: A call to speak up for Alaska’s fisheries

This week, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council will hold a large public meeting to discuss the management of fisheries. This meeting and other critical matters will impact our subsistence way of life. Prior to this meeting, Gov. Mike Dunleavy once again put his thumb on the scales of fairness by nominating his political supporters to fill two seats on the council while leaving out Alaska Natives and our voices from Western Alaska.

In Juneau, House Joint Resolution 22 has been introduced as a disguised effort to protect fisheries, but the measure is simply another attempt at a power grab by the state.

There are times in our lives when our Elders know a person’s outcome just by looking at them. Our people are observant, smart and resilient. We know when “the fix is in” or the “outcome of something is being controlled or affected in a dishonest way.” We know how to stay strong in adversity. The powers that be, are working behind the scenes to prevent us from our subsistence way of life in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Our Elders know this by watching and seeing what’s going on in the river and in the ocean.

In times like this, strong people become even stronger and united communities make bonds which cannot be broken. Now is that time for the people of Western Alaska to stand together and be heard as we continue to face a salmon crisis.

The people who rely on salmon for subsistence will attend the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in large numbers in Anchorage, and we will defend our right to have our voices heard, our waters managed properly, and our way of life protected.

Alaska Natives are strong people. We know government leaders at the state and federal levels will continue to try and silence our voices, ignore our natural resources expertise and Indigenous knowledge while trying to outlast the will of our people. We will remain in the fight for what we know is right and what our Elders say is true. Our fight is a fight for survival — the physical survival of our people, our culture, our very being.

Our Elders see what is going on with our salmon and with both the state and federal government. We cannot stand by and not speak up. We will be at the NPFMC meeting in Anchorage. See you all there.


Vivian Korthuis is chief executive officer of the Association of Village Council Presidents.

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