NPFMC identifies “onramps” to include local/traditional/subsistence knowledge in its decision-making process

Pollock trawlers worry adding traditional/subsistence knowledge to NPFMC deliberations will "slow down the process;" not be "objective."

by | October 20, 2023

After three years of discussion, NPFMC outlines 11 “points of entry” for LKTKS recommendations

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council made a motion in February 2020 to direct the Local Knowledge, Traditional Knowledge, and Subsistence Taskforce (LKTKS)to identify potential onramps (or points of entry) for incorporating such information into its decision-making process.

This document contains eleven different onramp recommendations for the Council to consider in making changes to its current decision-making process to better incorporate these knowledge systems.

The inclusive push was overwhelmingly supported by a wide array of groups. communities and individuals. In more than 30 comments to the NPFMC, the At-sea Processors Association was the only entity to raise “concerns” about including more local/traditional/subsistence knowledge into the Council’s decision-making process.

Some examples from comments by APA executive director Stephanie Madsen:

Bering Sea Pollock trawlers worry about how NPFMC “staff time will be prioritized

“APA broadly supports most of the LKTKS Onramp recommendations. However, the Council should explicitly provide guidance as to when, where and how LKTKS knowledge should be collected and prioritize staff time relative to presenting robust analyses that meet the requirements of NEPA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act.”

Pollock trawlers worry adding LKTKS will “slow down the process”

“We recognize that current capacity for such local knowledge collection is limited, and the analytical timelines for producing Council documents are also extremely limited. Under Guideline 1 it was suggested: “One practical example could be extending the time between initial review and final action or between the adoption of alternatives and initial review.” However, we caution that further slowing the process, particularly in the context of rapid climate change, will have to be balanced with the needs of stakeholders seeking expeditious action.”

Pollock trawlers don’t support ‘open-ended’ requests for LKTKS research priorities

“We do not support a completely open-ended request for research priorities via a workshop, as it would serve to further complicate the process of prioritizing the Council’s key research priorities.”

Pollock trawlers worry about “objective criteria” in applying LKTKS to any action

“We support the use of the LKTKS template. It should be modified to require that Council staff first determine whether Local Knowledge, Traditional Knowledge, or Subsistence information (or any combination) would apply to any given action based on an objective criterion.”

Pollock trawler skippers and crews are a “community” of “local knowledge holders”

“APA member skippers and crew have many decades of experience of fishing in the Bering Sea, and have direct knowledge about the marine ecosystem and the ongoing effects of climate change. We believe that they are local knowledge holders that make up a community of Bering Sea fishery stakeholders with valuable knowledge and perspectives to contribute to the Council’s
fishery management process.”

stephanie madsen, APA director, march 2023

LKTKS Taskforce members

 The LKTKS Taskforce is a nominated body comprising Local and Traditional Knowledge holders from across the Bering Sea region, social scientists, and agency staff. 

Mr. Toby Anungazuk Jr. (Golovin)
Dr. Rachel Donkersloot (Coastal Cultures Research)
Dr. Kate Haapala (NPFMC staff)
Ms. Bridget Mansfield (NMFS, AKRO)
Dr. Robert Murphy Jr. (Alaska Pacific University)
Ms. Darcy Peter (Woodell Climate Research Center;
Dr. Julie Raymond-Yakoubian (Kawerak)
Mr. Richard Slats (Chevak)
Mr. Simeon Swetzof (St. Paul)
Ms. Alida Trainor (ADFG Subsistence Division)
Dr. Sarah Wise (AFSC)

“There’s room for everyone on God’s green earth as long as we are doing it responsibly and sustainably. I’m not quite sure why the anti-trawl voice is increasing in volume.”

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.


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