By Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau
About 30 adults and children called for equality and greater subsistence fishery protection Wednesday morning in the ‘Idle No More’ rally in downtown Juneau. Several wore Native regalia, chanted songs, and danced as people took turns talking over a megaphone.
“The Pollock industry is coming into our water and has been for several years taking the fish away from our children and from our elders and our fish are dwindling in great numbers now and our people are struggling to try and get the fish to feed their children and to survive,” Bethel- resident Timothy Andrew says through the megaphone.
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Andrew is with the Association of Village Council Presidents. He wants to spread awareness of the importance of salmon to Native Alaskans, economically, socially, physically, and culturally. Andrew highlights the Bering Sea Pollock fishery which results in high numbers of chinook salmon by-catch.
Rally participants cited ongoing subsistence fishing problems in western Alaska due to recent restrictions placed on the Yukon River by state and federal agencies, and last year’s closure on the Kuskokwim River. Susettna King is a Juneau resident and member of ANS Camp 70.
“I think it’s time they leave the land to us. We’re not going to go in there and slaughter thousands and thousands of fish. We’re going to take what we need and leave the rest so nature comes back and we’ve done that for years. And they should let us better regulate what is leaving our land and what is coming back.”
Other rally concerns include tribal representation, decline of salmon stocks, environmental stewardship, and cruise ship waste water.
George Pletnikoff of Greenpeace and Alaska Inter-tribal Council said the rally was organized by the AVCP, ANB Camp 70, Kawerak Inc in Nome, and supported by Green Peace. Rally organizers were in Juneau to attend parts of the week-long North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, which concluded yesterday.
Cruise ship tourists stopped to take photos of the march through downtown Juneau. The ‘Idle No More’ rally ended in front of Centennial Hall where a joint meeting was held yesterday between the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and Alaska Board of Fish.