Transactions between State Managers and Native Fishermen: Co-management on the Kuskokwim River, Alaska


"This paper focuses on transactional processes involved in the operation of the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Workshop Group. Formed in 1988, this co-management mechanism gives Yup'ik Eskimo commercial and subsistence fishermen and other users a direct role, with the Alaska Department of fish and game, in salmon management. Three areas of transaction and negotiation between bio-scientific and Native systems of knowledge are analyzed: 1)perceptions of the management crisis; 2)creating a co-management mechanism from the grassroots; and 3)conducting management using scientific and local knowledge. Results indicate that through cooperation in decision-making, data gathering, and other facets of the management task the participants in the Working Group have facilitated record commercial salmon harvests while at the same time providing for subsistence and conservation needs. By incorporating local values of consensus-building in its operation the Working Group has responded in a culturally-appropriate manner to the various issues it has addressed. As well, the use of 'fishermen's knowledge' has served to critique and refine management of the salmon fishery. Through repeated transactions and use of each other's knowledge, diverse users and management authorities are coming to a congruency of values despite cultural differences. Co-management is only truly successful if such a compatibility is achieved."



co-management, fisheries, indigenous knowledge, IASC, harvesting