Alaska state law directs the Board of Game and Board of Fisheries to provide a reasonable opportunity for subsistence uses first, before providing for other uses of any harvestable surplus of a fish or game population [AS 16.05.258 (b)]. This is often referred to as the “subsistence preference” or sometimes the "subsistence priority."
Alaska state law (16.05.094) also directs the Division of Subsistence to
- Compile existing data and conduct studies to gather existing 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 which uses of fish and game, as well as what users and what methods, should be termed subsistence users, uses, 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 boards of fisheries and game regarding adoption, amendment, and repeal of regulations affecting subsistence fishing and 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, which include informed consent, anonymity of participants, and directly informing study communities of research findings.