SCI Opposes Department of the Interior Proposal to Add Seats to Federal Subsistence Board

Last week, SCI submitted a comment letter opposing the Department of the Interior’s proposal to add three public members to the Federal Subsistence Board.  The Board governs subsistence use of fish and wildlife in Alaska.  The proposal would require that the three new members be nominated or recommended by federally recognized Tribal governments.  SCI appreciates the importance of Alaska Native voices on the Board.  But SCI opposes the proposal because Alaska Natives constitute about half of federally qualified subsistence users.  The Department’s proposal would effectively and unlawfully elevate the interests of one half of all users while disenfranchising the other half.  

SCI’s comments point out that the proposal is inconsistent with the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).  In enacting ANILCA, Congress recognized the importance of protecting subsistence uses of wildlife and fisheries for rural Alaskans, including Alaska Natives and non-Natives alike.  Congress considered and then rejected a subsistence priority based only on race.  SCI’s comments also highlight how elevating the interests of half of Alaska’s subsistence users while disenfranchising the other half based solely on race, and not reliance on subsistence use of fish and wildlife, raises Equal Protection concerns under the Alaska and U.S. Constitutions.  SCI’s comment requests that instead of adding three new seats, the Department add one seat for an Alaska Department of Fish and Game representative.

Read the full comment letter here.

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