Bethel's Subsistence Harvest
There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it: Bethelites love salmon.
According to a Comprehensive Subsistence Harvest Survey conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2012, 41 percent of Bethel’s subsistence harvest consisted of salmon. Included in that number are Chinook (8 percent of total harvest), sockeye (10 percent of total harvest), coho (11 percent of total harvest), and chum (12 percent of total harvest), adding up to a total of 390,022 estimated edible pounds of salmon.
That’s not all people eat in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta, though. Moose contributed 20 percent of the total subsistence harvest, non-salmon fish contributed 20 percent, birds and eggs contributed 6 percent, caribou contributed 5 percent, vegetation contributed 5 percent, marine mammals contributed 2 percent and marine invertebrates represent less than 1 percent of the total harvest. Other remaining sources totaled up to about 19 percent of the total subsistence harvest.
The statistics also show the decline of king salmon and the resulting restrictions on fishing. Only 7,846 king salmon were harvested, about 70 percent below the recent 10-year average, and 49 percent of Bethel household reported using less king salmon than in previous years.