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Customary Trade

This is a new page but an old issue coming to a head as we deal with a king run in crisis. More to come on this issue soon.

Edible Chum Cust Trade

                              An opinion:
   The people of the Yukon River have traditionally cured and dried salmon strips for thousands of years. As customary trade, the practice of selling these fish products is part of the overall subsistence cycle and use of salmon for people on the Yukon River. While they follow methods developed and taught to them by their ancestors, these methods, and the facilities in which they are used, do not meet the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's (ADEC) guidelines for processing plants. For this reason the federal protection given to customary trade on the Yukon River only includes the sale of fresh whole fish. This is the one type of fish “product” that most subsistence fishers universally agree upon should not be sold but given away in season. All types of normal traditional customary trade products are not protected. Hence we live in a dream world where the agencies (Federal) charged with protecting the subsistence priority and customary trade seem to be more interested in changing the meaning of subsistence than protecting it and getting into a conflict with the State. The same State whom they took over fisheries management from because the felt the State was not protecting subsistence rights properly.

   Presently because of a declining king salmon run and the resulting lose of a vital commercial fishery and severe cuts into even subsistence fishing opportunities, fighting among user groups has increased. This is normal every time a fishery declines. In this instance however it has also brought out people who have always disliked the idea of an unregulated local fishery (customary trade) and those who object to the subsistence priority supposedly being provided by the federal government.

   What I see is the very people who are suppose to be protecting this way of life and the subsistence priority trying to redefine the meaning of the lifestyle and create a protected tradition that in no way reflects what people on the river have done. This is all being done now in the name of protecting the declining king run and the process has just begun.

Things are often not what they are made out to be


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