Feds suing Alaska for fishing Refuge River

ANCHORING — The Biden administration is suing Alaska for fishing rights on a river that runs through a national wildlife refuge, saying the state is undermining federal efforts to limit harvests when fish numbers are low for local residents in the area of ​​predominantly indigenous villages.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month against the state Department of Fish and Game for Crops on the section of the Kuskokwim River that runs through the vast Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in the southwest of Alaska, reported Indian Country Today.

He alleges the state opened the river to fishing for all Alaskans during some of the same times when the federal government limited harvests to local and rural residents due to low fish numbers.

U.S. Department of the Interior spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said the openings violated federal law and interfered with a priority for rural subsistence use under the National Interest Lands Conservation Act from Alaska.

The lawsuit is part of a longstanding dispute between federal land management agencies and the state over subsistence or wild food gathering for nutrition and cultural practices.

The state says it lives up to its responsibility to uphold the Alaska Constitution, which prohibits exclusive or special privileges to harvest fish and wildlife.

“These decisions are based on a sound scientific basis guided by a management plan and parameters approved by the Alaska Fisheries Council with input from the local stakeholder working group,” said Grace Lee, spokesperson. of the State Department of Justice.

The Kuskokwim River Delta is home to millions of migrating birds, as well as bears, caribou, moose and five species of salmon. The refuge is home to a dozen villages where the Yup’ik, Cupik and Deg Xit’an Athabascan predominate.

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