Alaska: Southeast

PO Box 15004, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5004
Fax: (928) 523-1266

Alaska Region

Alaska: Southeast

Southeast Alaska has attributed the recent high variability and low predictability of their weather to climate change. Sometimes warm winters plague the area; other times, cold fronts prevail. These increasingly fluctuating weather patterns affect human residents and might also have an affect on marine and terrestrial life in the region.

Halibut, crab, and all species of salmon are drastically declining. Historical salmon runs seem to be diminishing, which impacts the subsistence of residents, spurring an increase in the consumption of store-bought foods (many of which are less compatible with the natural diets of Native residents).

Predicting seasonal salmon harvesting has been difficult- some years yield a fair amount, while others result in low numbers. Furthermore, different species of fish (and birds) are appearing in the area for the first time. Invasive plant species are also emerging; communities such as Klawock have implemented plant-pulling projects to deter invasions of non-native species.

Glaciers have been receding at a rapid pace. According to locals the past 10-15 years have seen an extreme recession that some estimate at almost 1 mile.
In addition to lower salmon runs and their economic and health impacts of residents, the higher cost of energy has also impacted villages. Fuel costs take an increasing share of commercial and subsistence fishing profits. This impact has trickled into state regulations that allow longer periods of openings for anglers, helping reduce the amount of travel necessary for fish harvesting.

In Petersburg, rather than the old schedule of two days of fishing and two days of rest, there is now a three-day opening once a week, which results in lower amounts of CO2 emissions and reduces fuel costs. Also, fish-packer ships have begun to meet individual boats in the ocean to pick up harvests and transfer them to canneries for processing. This allows fishing boats to remain in the open ocean. Another efficiency enhancer is the practice of regular boat-engine tune-ups, which increases fuel efficiency and extends engine life.

For more information please contact:
Nikki Cooley, Co-Director
Karen Cozzetto, Co-Manager