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Developing an arctic subsistence observation system

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The goal of the Arctic Observing Network Social Indicators Project subsistence component is to assess the adequacy of existing subsistence harvest data to advance our understanding of arctic change and to serve as the basis for recommending steps that can improve the observation network. The assessment is based on a database developed to include 1521 place/year records for Alaska and northern Canada. Of these records, 641 include estimates of harvest of all resources. Separate harvest reports are available for 131 species. Annual harvests are expressed as kilograms of edible harvest per capita for years ranging from 1965 to 2007. One or more measures per decade of comprehensive harvest in the 1990s and 2000s exist for 50 of the 411 arctic North American communities. Based on these results, in most, but not all regions, available data on subsistence harvests in Arctic North America cannot support analysis of changes in harvest over time. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Community Subsistence Information System continues to provide harvest data for communities and has developed several regional sets of community harvest data in response to actual and potential environmental changes. The past harvest surveys conducted in the Nunavik, Inuvialuit, and Nunavut regions offer valuable experience as well as baseline data. The Arctic Borderlands Ecological Cooperative is a model of community–researcher collaboration. These past and current initiatives provide a foundation for the design of an expanded arctic subsistence observation network. The paper concludes with a discussion of challenges and recommendations.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute of Social and Economic Research,University of Alaska Anchorage, 117 N. Leverett RdLeverettMA01054, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2011


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