While it’s still about a month until schools of herring will begin to spawn in Sitka Sound, the conversation around the role of subsistence advocacy and knowledge in herring management has already started.
Last week, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska hosted a virtual panel with four members of the Herring Protectors, a group that calls for protection of the species and subsistence rights, and advocates for changes to the state’s management of the commercial fishery.
For two hours, panel guests Louise Brady, Harvey Kitka, Vivian Mork and Peter Bradley had a vibrant, in-depth conversation about the forage fish–discussing everything from the history of herring and its importance to Tlingit people, to a recent study that called the state’s management model into question, and court cases that are still pending. The panel also featured a screening of the Herring Protectors’ new film Yáa at Wooné (Respect for All Things), which premiered at the Anchorage International Film Festival in December.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has set a harvest level for this year’s commercial Sac Roe Herring fishery of 33,000 tons, but the state predicts that processors won’t buy that much fish. The Sitka Tribe of Alaska has won a pair of legal victories against the state, arguing that subsistence harvests were not reasonably accounted for during management of the fishery.
Watch the full two-hour forum on the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s Youtube page here.