About the Program
The Federal Subsistence Management Program is a multi-agency effort to provide the opportunity for a subsistence way of life by rural Alaskans on federal public lands and waters while maintaining healthy populations of fish and wildlife. Subsistence fishing and hunting provide a large share of the food consumed in rural Alaska. The state's rural residents harvest about 18,000 tons of wild foods each year - an average of 295 pounds per person. Fish makes up about 56 percent of this harvest statewide. Nowhere else in the United States is there such a heavy reliance upon wild foods.
This dependence on wild resources is cultural, social and economic. Alaska's indigenous inhabitants have relied upon the traditional harvest of wild foods for thousands of years and have passed this way of life, its culture, and values down through generations. Subsistence has also become important to many non-Native Alaskans, particularly in rural Alaska.
The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), passed by Congress in 1980, mandates that rural residents of Alaska be given a priority for subsistence uses of fish and wildlife. In 1989, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that ANILCA's rural priority violated the Alaska Constitution. As a result, the Federal government manages subsistence uses on Federal public lands and waters in Alaska-about 230 million acres or 60 percent of the land within the state. To help carry out the responsibility for subsistence management, the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture established the Federal Subsistence Management Program.
Board and Councils
The program provides for public participation through the Federal Subsistence Board and 10 Regional Advisory Councils. The Board is the decision-making body that oversees the program. It is made up of the regional directors of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S. Forest Service. Three public members (one of whom serves as chair) are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior with concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture. The Regional Advisory Councils provide recommendations and information to the Board; review proposed regulations, policies and management plans; and provide a public forum for subsistence issues. Each Council consists of residents who are knowledgeable about subsistence and other uses of fish and wildlife resources in their region. The chairs of the Regional Advisory Councils and a representative of the State of Alaska are liaisons to the Federal Subsistence Board.
Another important element of the Federal subsistence program is fisheries research and monitoring. The Fisheries Resource Monitoring Program supports and funds research and monitoring projects that provide information needed for subsistence fisheries management and to ensure that regulatory decisions are based upon sound science. The Federal Subsistence Board, Regional Advisory Councils and fishery managers use this information when making regulatory decisions. Projects funded by the program are carried out by numerous organizations, including the State and Federal government agencies, universities, Alaska Native and rural organizations, and private contractors.
Regulations implementing the Federal Subsistence Management Program on Federal public lands within the State of Alaska can be found jointly in the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR 242 and 50 CFR 100, Sections 1 - 28.