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Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Subsistence in Alaska
Customary and Traditional Use Determination

In Alaska, customary and traditional uses of fish and game populations are protected by state law, and the Board of Fisheries and Board of Game must provide for those uses first before providing for commercial or recreational uses.

To decide if a fish stock or game population is associated with customary and traditional uses, and thus to a subsistence preference, state regulation 5 AAC 99.010 says the boards must look at eight factors. The factors are called the "eight criteria."

The boards rely on data about customary and traditional uses provided by the Division of Subsistence, as well as other data, to help guide them in making positive or negative customary and traditional use findings.

Criterion 1: Length and consistency of use

A long term consistent pattern of noncommercial taking, use, and reliance on the fish stock or game population that has been established over a reasonable period of time of not less than one generation, excluding interruption by circumstances beyond the user’s control, such as unavailability of the fish or game caused by migratory patterns.

Criterion 2: Seasonality

A pattern of taking or use recurring in specific seasons of each year.

Criterion 3: Methods and means of harvest

A pattern of taking or use consisting of methods and means of harvest that are characterized by efficiency and economy of effort and cost.

Criterion 4: Geographic areas

The area in which the noncommercial, long term, and consistence pattern of taking, use, and reliance upon the fish stock and game population has been established.

Criterion 5: Means of handling, preparing, preserving, and storing

A means of handling, preparing, preserving, and storing fish or game that has been traditionally used by past generations, but not excluding recent technological advances where appropriate.

Criterion 6: Intergenerational transmission of knowledge, skills, values, and lore

A pattern of taking or use that includes the handing down of knowledge of fishing or hunting skills, values, and lore from generation to generation.

Criterion 7: Distribution and exchange

A pattern of taking, use, and reliance where the harvest effort or products of that harvest are distributed or shared, including customary trade, barter, and gift-giving.

Criterion 8: Diversity of resources in an area; economic, cultural, social, and nutritional elements

A pattern that includes taking, use, and reliance for subsistence purposes upon a wide variety of fish and game resources that that provides substantial economic, cultural, social, and nutritional elements of the subsistence way of life.

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