Board Hears Testimony on Closed Hooligan Fishery

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The Federal Subsistence management board continued meetings in Anchorage Thursday. One issue that garnered a lot of passionate testimony was over a recommendation from the Southeast regional advisory council to permanently close the Eulachon or Hooligan fishery on the Unuk River. For the past five years the fishery, called oligan by the Metlakatla people, has been closed, but it is reviewed yearly.

Thomas Lang Senior from Metlakatla has been a fisherman for more than 50 years. He said even though board members claim that a permanent closure can be re-opened, he says that hasn’t been his experience, citing the icy straits near Hoonah.

He said the rendered oligan grease has been their basis of trade for thousands of years.

North Slope Council member Rosemary Ahtuangaruak said the proposal gave her a lot of concern because there was not enough notice and consultation with the Metlakatla people about the permanent closure recommendation.

The board voted to defer action and continue with the current annual review of the fishery.

Pete Prosbasco assistant regional director with the office of subsistence management says Friday’s subsistence board meeting will deal with President Obama’s mandate of improving consultation with tribes.

Probasco says the entire day will be devoted to developing the consultation process with tribes. He says information exchanged between tribes and the federal managers will then be given to the regional advisory councils to incorporate in to their recommendations to the board. The Federal Subsistence board must defer to the recommendations of the regional advisory councils.

Download Audio (MP3)