Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Office of Trust Services, Tribal Climate Resilience Program has approved a funding proposal by the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC). The Category 4, Ocean and Coastal Management Planning award will fund a two year project between the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission and Wrangell Cooperative Association (WCA) entitled “Southeast Alaska Ocean Fish Consumption Rates”. The Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission and Wrangell Cooperative Association will be collecting data on the amount of fish and other sea foods consumed by the Indigenous people who live in Wrangell, Alaska.
“We are very pleased to receive this Bureau of Indian Affairs grant,” said Rob Sanderson, Jr., Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission Chair, “Our foods are safe and healthy to eat. It is important we keep it that way for our future generations.”
In partnership with the Wrangell Cooperative Association, the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission will use the data collected to help the State of Alaska set water quality standards that protect the people who eat a lot of seafood. The water quality standards derived from fish consumption data are used to help control the amount of contaminants released under state authorized wastewater permits.
The survey will take 2 years to conduct and publish. the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission will share results publicly and with state and federal officials. “Alaska is unique in that we still have a vast resource of clean water,” says Frederick Olsen Jr., Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission’s Executive Director. “Down south, 40% of all waters are too contaminated to eat any fish that may live there.”
Alaska now uses the estimate of 6.5 grams per day per person (g/d), less than one bite, to calculate these water quality standards. The Environmental Protection Agency has set the current fish consumption rate of 22 g/d and recommends (142.4 g/d for subsistence use areas). Both Oregon and Washington State have set fish consumption rates of 175g/d. The EPA further recommends that the fish consumption rate be based on local data.
The Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission will work with the Wrangell Cooperative Association to conduct the survey and publish the results. “This survey is the first of its kind in southeast Alaska” stated Esther Ashton, Tribal Administrator, Wrangell Cooperative Association. “We need to be sure that as Alaska is developed, we do not lose access to our traditional foods.”