There has been a lack of subsistence salmon fishing on the Yukon River this summer, so residents are hoping for longer fall hunting seasons. Here’s how you can submit a request to extend the upcoming fall hunts.
Fish camps are ghost towns up and down the Yukon River. This year’s Yukon king salmon runs are the fourth lowest ever recorded, while the summer chum runs are the lowest. And state managers predict that the fall chum run will break last year’s record-setting low.
Without subsistence salmon, Yukon River communities are relying more on store-bought groceries. Every week, the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association meets on a teleconference to discuss the state of the Yukon salmon fishery. During these weekly meetings, community members regularly reference the high cost of groceries in their villages. To fill their freezers and save their wallets for the winter, villagers have been asking for more fall hunting opportunities for moose and caribou during the meetings.
Normally, the Federal Subsistence Board only considers changes to its subsistence regulations every two years. But in the case of extreme situations and urgent needs, like record-breaking salmon shortages, community members, tribes, or organizations can submit a special action request. The request asks for a temporary change to the regulations, like a longer hunting season or a greater bag limit.
Eva Patton is the coordinator for the federal Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Advisory Council. She expects to receive requests for greater opportunities to hunt along the Yukon River this year.
“Most were expressing an interest to find out how to expand opportunities for harvest of subsistence moose or caribou this fall to help augment their lack of subsistence salmon fishing opportunities,” said Patton.
She said that fortunately, the process to submit a request is very easy.
“It doesn't require any special form, you can just provide them a piece of paper, handwritten or email, name and address and contact information, and if you're representing an organization, and then simply describe the action that you're requesting,” said Patton.
She said that it’s important that requests reference the existing regulations that would be altered.
Patton also said that while anyone and everyone can submit a request, it may expedite the process if organizations such as tribes or nonprofits submit one overarching request.
Whether the Federal Subsistence Board grants a request will depend on several factors.
“They do have to consider the continued viability of that fish or wildlife population. So there is an analysis that goes into the request, looking at any conservation concern or impacts to other users,” said Patton.
You can email your federal special action request to subsistence@FWS.gov. Patton said that if anyone needs help writing a proposal or has further questions, subsistence users can give her a call at 907-444-4851.