Subsistence Management Notes – No. 3

During a special legislative session called by Governor Walter Hickel in 1991, state lawmakers agreed to a partial remedy to the subsistence impasse. The legislature passed a bill which split the state into zones where subsistence was allowed, and other areas where it was banned. People who lived in urban areas could conceivably be allowed to travel to rural areas and subsistence hunt and fish. In times of shortages, the rural residents would have the priority for the taking of fish and wildlife for subsistence. Allocation of these resources was based on formulas that were to take into account how close the individual/family lived to the resource(s), and what access there was to other food(s).

On May 29  1992, Final Federal Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska (Subparts A-General Provisions; B-Program Structure; and C-Board Determinations) were published in the Federal Register. Subpart D regulations were published on May 28, 1992, and deal with definitions,prohibitions, methods and means, individual species seasons and bag limits, and fish and shellfish. The distinction between the two regulations is required because Subpart D is subject to an annual public review cycle.

In October of 1993, state Superior Court Judge Dana Fabe ruled that the state’s concept of non-subsistence zones was unconstitutional. This ruling was made following legal arguments made by the Kenai-area Kenaitze Indians. The Kenaitze argued that the law lacked sufficient access to hunting and fishing areas, as much of the Kenai Peninsula was set aside as a non-subsistence zone. The effect of the ruling means the State’s subsistence dilemma continues without an end in sight.

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