Fishing People of the North symposium to discuss social, environmental change



NR: SG-2011/NR325

Anchorage, Alaska—Coastal fishing communities throughout the circumpolar north are in the midst of rapid social and environmental change. An international symposium coming to Anchorage this month will bring together fishery and social scientists, indigenous people, fishermen, community activists, and others to discuss how these changes are affecting fishing-dependent coastal communities, and to explore ways fisheries managers can incorporate social and environmental change in resource management decisions.

"Fishing People of the North: Cultures, Economies, and Management Responding to Change" will explore the human and environmental dimensions of fishery management in a rapidly changing world. The symposium will be held at the Hilton Downtown Anchorage Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, September 14–17, 2011. The symposium is the 27th in the Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium series that began in 1982.

"This symposium comes at a critical time for coastal Alaska and other regions of the north that are experiencing unprecedented environmental and social changes," said Courtney Carothers, an environmental anthropologist and assistant professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. "It's vital that coastal communities, scientists, and resource managers have a way to exchange research and ideas that can help fishing communities respond and adapt to these transitions in ways that help them foster their lifestyles, cultures, and values."

In Alaska, for example, as veteran fishermen age, fewer young people are choosing to follow in their footsteps. In many coastal communities, fishing permits have been sold out-of-state as local fishermen retire. Alaska Native fishermen have resource knowledge to share, but often have no clear way of working with fisheries managers. As the ocean warms, fish stocks are moving north, potentially creating new fisheries that bring opportunities and challenges for Arctic coastal residents. Alaska fishermen also must cope with the higher cost of living in remote coastal communities, a maze of state and federal fishing regulations, and ever-changing global markets.

Researchers, indigenous people, fishermen and others from Alaska—and places including Denmark, Norway, Canada, Russian, Japan, Greenland, Washington state and Oregon—will offer their perspectives on the broad themes of human-environmental relationships, fishing communities in transition, indigenous knowledge, and governance and management issues facing northern fishing communities.

Alaska Native leaders Sasha Lindgren and Clare Swan are among the symposium's keynote speakers.

Alexandra "Sasha" Lindgren is an Elder of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe and has worked for her tribe for over twenty years in cultural and educational programs.

Clare Swan is the current board chair of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, and former chief of the Kenaitze Indian tribe. Swan helped secure fishing rights for her tribe and helped establish the Cook Inlet Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. In 2011 she was inducted into the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame.

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program is a statewide marine research, education, communication, and extension service at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Alaska Sea Grant is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and private industry.

The Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program is a statewide university extension and technical assistance program that helps Alaskans wisely use, conserve, and enjoy Alaska's marine and coastal resources.