The taking of fish, wildlife, and other wild resources has been a way of life for many Alaska cultural groups for millennia. These practices are carried on in hundreds of Alaska communities by tens of thousands of Alaskans, who continue to rely on subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering economically as well as culturally.
Since the passing of Alaska’s first subsistence statute in 1978, the Division of Subsistence has been scientifically investigating and documenting the many traditions and practices of how Alaskans use wild resources. Alaska Statute 16.05.094 specifically directs the Division of Subsistence to:
- Compile existing data and conduct studies to gather information, including data from subsistence users, on all aspects of the role of subsistence hunting and fishing in the lives of the residents of the state;
- Quantify the amount, nutritional value, and extent of dependence on food acquired through subsistence hunting and fishing;
- Make information gathered available to the public, appropriate agencies, and other organized bodies;
- Assist the department, the Board of Fisheries and the Board of Game in determining what uses of fish and game, as well as which users and what methods, should be termed subsistence uses, users, and methods;
- Evaluate the impact of state and federal laws and regulations on subsistence hunting and fishing and, when corrective action is indicated, make recommendations to the department;
- Make recommendations to the Board of Game and the Board of Fisheries regarding adoption, amendment, and repeal of regulations affecting subsistence hunting;
- Participate with other divisions in the preparation of statewide and regional management plans so that those plans recognize and incorporate the needs of subsistence users of fish and game.
Much of the division’s research is conducted in partnership with local communities and all of our projects follow the ethical principles of the social sciences. These include informed consent, anonymity of participants, and directly informing study communities of research findings. Most study findings are available in the division’s Technical Paper Series, now with over 380 titles available online. The division also maintains an online database known as the Community Subsistence Information System (CSIS), which is the repository of Alaska community harvest information collected by our staff over time.
For additional information see Subsistence in Alaska, A Year 2014 Update (PDF 227 kB) .