Ecosystems and People
Alaska’s abundant fish and wildlife populations provide sustenance and income to the state’s residents through direct harvesting and the development of industries such as sport fishing and wildlife viewing. However, the state has experienced a six-fold population increase since World War II and sees more visitors each decade. Increased human population leads to increased impacts on fish and wildlife populations and the ecosystems they inhabit. Traditional and subsistence users, sport and commercial fishers, large corporations engaged in resource extraction and urban and suburban developers may have conflicts over limited resources.
Subsistence hunting and fishing provide a large share of the food supply in rural Alaska. In addition to food local natural resources have traditionally been used for everything from clothing to transportation and arts and crafts.
In addition to providing food natural resources are an important source of income for many Alaskan residents. Large scale commercial fisheries operate off shore in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska harvesting crab, scallops, herring, cod and other finfish. Commercial salmon fishermen work closer to shore and in the rivers. Indirect income comes from guiding sport hunters and fishermen and providing services to those who come to view the state’s wildlife.