Tongass official explains importance of wild salmon

Some view the resources of Lingit Aani as export commodities. Extraction practices leave Alaska Natives poor and destitute in our own land while others get rich off of what used to be ours.

Juneau Empire

Michael Penn / Juneau EmpireTongass Fisheries Program Manager Ron Medel gives a presentation on wild salmon production at the Capitol on Thursday.

The Tongass National Forest is a globally significant source of wild salmon and efforts should be made to preserve that resource, the forest’s fish program manager said at a “Lunch and Learn” presentation at the Alaska State Capitol Thursday.

Ron Medel said that while non-wild salmon may outsell wild salmon, salmon that hatch in and return to the wild as part of their natural life cycle carry significant commercial, cultural and ecological value.

“What farmed fish don’t do — they don’t bring back the nutrients from the ocean,” Medel said. “And some would argue that hatchery fish don’t do that, either, because they’re coming back to a terminal harvest. They don’t make their way back up into the land to feed the bears and the critters and the eagles.”

Medel also mentioned subsistence harvest of salmon by Alaska Native and Siberian peoples.

“You cannot put a value (on subsistence harvest), and you cannot, for that matter, put a value on how these fish symbolize a relationship to the land, how we treat our land, because they have to come back,” said Medel, referring to the salmon life cycle that sees the fish born in freshwater, go out to live in the ocean, and return to the watershed to spawn and die. “They have to rear, put out to the ocean, and come back.”


About Vince

I am a Tlingit, born and raised in Tlingit Country, and a proud member of the Tlingit Nation.
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1 Response to Tongass official explains importance of wild salmon

  1. I ran into a high ranking official of the Forest Service at T&H’s Forum on the Environment in Juneau 2 weeks ago. The head of the Forest Service, Tidwell, is coming out in August for a visit where he is expected to publically voice that salmon is the primary function of the Tongass. Now if we can only get the Forest Service to recognize the villages and communities surrounded by Forest Service land and the importance of that land for subsistence and cultural practices. The people are there because of the salmon, but maybe, just maybe the salmon are there because of the people.

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