Tribal Harvest Monitoring Program
ANCC is currently working to develop a statewide Tribal Harvest Monitoring Program to carry out harvest reporting responsibilities under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and federal regulations, and to collect samples, hunter observations, and Indigenous Knowledge insights. Through this program, ANCC hopes to establish long-term collaboration and communication between subsistence hunters and researchers, and to develop a database of both scientific data and Indigenous Knowledge to help inform polar bear co-management. This program will also allow for ANCC to monitor harvest levels through locally-based reporting, strengthening self-management of subsistence harvests by Alaska Natives.
Chukchi Sea Polar Bear Harvest Management Plan
Starting in early 2020, ANCC began developing a draft Harvest Management Plan for Chukchi Sea Polar Bears based on guidance from the ANCC Governance Board. While framed in accordance with the requirements of the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Agreement, this draft plan emphasizes the continuation of the sustainable traditional harvest practices by Alaska Natives that have maintained a healthy Chukchi Sea polar bear population through the present. Initial drafting of the plan has been completed, and ANCC’s next steps are to hold meetings and conduct extensive outreach in each of the communities potentially affected by the plan. Through this outreach, ANCC hopes that member Tribes and hunters will provide feedback and contribute to the further development of the plan, ensuring that it is supported by Tribes and subsistence users before moving toward finalization.
Indigenous Engagement in 2021 U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission Meeting
The next in-person meeting of the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission is scheduled to be held in Nome, Alaska in the summer/fall of 2021. Historically, participation by Alaska Natives and Chukokan Natives in these meetings has been limited due to funding and logistical challenges. Indigenous participation in these meetings is critical, as subsistence users are impacted by the decisions of this body in significant ways, and Indigenous Knowledge has much to contribute to the bilateral management process. ANCC is seeking funds to allow for indigenous people from Chukotka and communities in Alaska that harvest Chukchi Sea polar bears to attend the 2021 Commission meeting. As part of this convening, ANCC hopes to organize a special event, bringing indigenous peoples together to share family and cultural connections, as well as values and practices related to polar bear subsistence, and to discuss matters of common concern related to polar bear management and research.