My name is Bill Alstrom from Saint Mary’s, located on the Lower Yukon River. Victor Lord from Nenana and I co-chair the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association (YRDFA). I am a subsistence fisherman and also a member of my Tribal entity, the Yupiit of Andreafski, which has been a member of YRDFA for a number of years.
Earlier this month I attended a one day Alaska Pre-season Fishery Meeting, hosted by YRDFA to discuss the status of Chinook salmon restrictions for the summer of 2014. Also included was a two-day International Summit with the First Nations people of Canada in Fairbanks. The Council of Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee hosted the international summit and the Yukon River Panel funded both meetings.
The meeting consisted of fish users from the coastal mouth of the Yukon River to Canada’s First Nations in the headwaters. It was the first meeting of its kind where people from the entire Yukon River were able to talk amongst themselves about the Chinook salmon decline, its impact on our culture and compare ideas on possible solutions. One Canadian fisherman said they’ve been waiting years for a meeting like this. We have too.
Only some of the Tribes along the Yukon River are members of the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association. I would like to invite the remaining Tribes to join us so we have a united voice representing the fishermen and issues we’re faced with. YRDFA always has the traditional fisheries of the Yukon River and the cultures of the people who live along the river at heart. It is the long-standing fishermen of the Yukon River who have worked tirelessly to sit together to make this organization work and to find ways to address the most pressing issues such as salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery and also low Chinook salmon returns.
The number to call to be put on the membership list for tribes is 907-272-3141, extension for Wayne Jenkins or go to the YRDFA website www.yukonsalmon.org. We also encourage cities, corporations and individuals to join.
As the lower river co-chair of YRDFA, I invite you to join me. Together we can make a difference!
Sincerely, Bill Alstrom; Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association: Co-Chair