In 2007, with support from 25 tribal governments, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council established a northern bottom trawl boundary that prevents fleets from moving into waters where they have not operated in the past. Fishery managers adopted general guidelines that allow them to remove the boundary in the future if changing ocean conditions (warming) cause fish to redistribute northward. AMCC is working with the Bering Sea Elders Group in their efforts to (1) advocate for a long-term policy solution that safeguards the Northern Bering Sea ecosystem, traditional uses and local commercial fisheries, (2) ensure a meaningful role for tribes in future decisions that affect the northern bottom trawl boundary, and (3) communicate local and traditional knowledge to policy makers.
Northern Bering Sea Mapping Project
The Bering Sea Elders Group and Alaska Marine Conservation Council undertook a Northern Bering Sea Mapping Project to compile spatial information about hunting and fishing use in the ocean and ecologically sensitive marine areas for the species used by coastal tribes in the Yukon-Kuskokwim and Bering Strait regions. The maps are intended to inform, in a general way, fishery management and other policy decisions that affect traditional resources, local fisheries, and the marine ecosystem that supports them.
The maps are one dimensional without the cultural context from which they emerged. The map report provides excerpts from project interviews to connect the maps with the perspective of elders and active hunters who participated. We also include excerpts from other published traditional knowledge sources to augment the project interviews or elaborate on what was shared. Because of the large geographic scale of the project, we collected information on hunting and fishing areas, but not in depth traditional ecological (natural history) knowledge. However, our purpose is to show the use of traditional marine resources as a way of life across the extensive Yukon-Kuskokwim and Bering Strait regions.