AVCP calls for innovative thinking to fight the ongoing Salmon Crisis

AVCP President and CEO testifies at the NPFMC about the salmon crisis on the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. She is holding an empty ziploc bag that says "Yukon Kuskokwim Salmon Crash" to illustrate the dire need for a solution. Photo courtesy of AVCP, Inc.

by AVCP Staff

The Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) leadership brought powerful testimony to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) meeting today (April 6th, 2024) to bring attention to the dire salmon crisis which is impacting thousands of Native Alaskans.

This crisis has reached an historic level impacting the physical well-being, cultural well-being, and rights of Natives. In a show of unity, AVCP ‘s Chief Executive Officer Vivian Korthuis jointly testified with Brian Ridley, Chairman and Chief of Tanana Chiefs Conference and Melanie Bahnke, Chief Executive Officer of Kawerak.

Korthuis says the NPFMC needs to act more thoughtfully and seek broader and more lasting solutions to end the salmon crisis. The status quo is not acceptable.

“It is important that the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council recognizes its role in helping us and really listens to the testimonies at this meeting. There must be significant bycatch reductions below the current measures. We urge the Council to consider options for including chum limit below 200,000. While we would prefer it to be zero, we agree that it needs to be reduced, “says Korthuis.

Korthuis adds, “Right now, our cultural identity is under attack. Our subsistence way of life is being questioned. We will not sit silently and watch this happen. The situation is unprecedented. In my opinion, we are witnessing a humanitarian crisis in our own State of Alaska.”

Members of the AVCP subsistence committee and Chairman Thaddeus Tikiun Jr. are also representing the people of their region and providing testimony.

“It is up to you all sitting at this table to make the right decisions so that it is fair for all the users. We, the subsistence users bear the burden in the use of all natural resources and we must fight both the state and federal authorities just to subsist,” says Tikiun Jr.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will continue to hear testimony at future hearings before final actions are taken in December.

AVCP leadership is committed to bringing the voices of Western Alaska to the forefront of this critical decision-making process. Korthuis ended her impassioned testimony by asking the Council if they are willing to find meaningful solutions, “If you can help us, tell us, if you can’t offer us help, then just let us know.”

Korthuis’ comment came following warnings from AVCP, Kawerak, Chief of Tanana Chiefs Conference leaders that legal action may be the next step in the effort to end the crisis.

AVCP is a regional nonprofit tribal consortium comprised of the 56 federally recognized tribes of the YK Delta. The geographic boundaries of AVCP extend from the Yukon River Village of Russian Mission downstream to the Bering Sea coast, north up through Kotlik and south along the coastline to Platinum and then extending up the Kuskokwim River to Stony River, including Lime Village on the Stony River tributary. The area encompasses approximately 6.5 million acres, or 55,000 square miles, in Western Alaska.