What are the subsistence fisheries on the Yukon River?

A subsistence fishery, is a fishery that allows harvesters to sustain themselves at a basic level. While Alaska and the Yukon have fisheries each calls subsistence, there are differences in who they apply to. In the Yukon, the subsistence fishery is defined in the Umbrella Final Agreement as the Yukon First Nation fishery. Alaskans (including the general public) can fish for subsistence purposes in the state. Subsistence fisheries were given priority over other fisheries in the Yukon River Salmon Agreement. This means, that each country must anticipate meeting their priority fishery’s needs before allowing another fishery.

Alaskan subsistence fishery in the U.S.

The subsistence fishery within Alaska is open to all Alaskan residents (under state law) unless the resource is limited. Under federal law, only rural residents are eligible for subsistence priority on federally managed waters. Subsistence fishers use gillnets (set and drift), fish wheels, dip nets and in some instances, angling gear to harvest salmon. Chinook are primarily harvested for personal consumption, whereas chum and coho are often used for both personal consumption and feeding sled dogs. Subsistence harvested salmon within federal public lands can be sold under customary trade rules and processing laws, which excludes selling to commercial fishery businesses.

First Nation fishery in Canada

The First Nation fishery is the longest standing fishery on the Yukon River within Canada. Yukon First Nation governments may manage their own fisheries and issue fishing licenses to Yukon First Nations. These rights to fish and manage their fisheries within their traditional territories is mandated under the respective Final Agreement (‘land claims’). First Nation fishers use gillnets (drift and set), fish wheels, gaffs and angling gear. Salmon may be caught for food, cultural and ceremonial purposes, and for trade with other Yukon First Nations.