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Alaska Native Science Commission Northwest Arctic Regional Meeting Summary u Changes u Possible Causes of Changes u Ideas for Action

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Presentation on theme: "Alaska Native Science Commission Northwest Arctic Regional Meeting Summary u Changes u Possible Causes of Changes u Ideas for Action"— Presentation transcript:

1 Alaska Native Science Commission Northwest Arctic Regional Meeting Summary u Changes u Possible Causes of Changes u Ideas for Action

2 Changes: Fish with Abnormalities u Sores and pus on King Salmon u King Salmon meat spotty and mushy u King Salmon small - not fat u King Salmon - guts fused into the stomach u Herring - red behind the gills and under the scales on the body

3 Changes u Salmon disappearing u Low chum returns 1987 – present u Fish Board not protecting our catch - someone catching them before they reach us u Kotzebue area - less whitefish, more salmon, lower size and quality u No King crab large enough to keep – this may be changing – see Enoch’s comments this meeting. u Addition - Norton Sound region since 1987 to present u Addition – Enoch – finding large king crab and shrimp u Question – what Fish Board are you referring to? Board of Fish or North Pacific Fisheries Management Council? A: Alaska Board of Fish

4 Changes: Marine Mammals u 4 dead belugas were seen washed up on the beaches between Cape Darby and Topkok. Since then, three more were seen between Elim and Koyuk (summer 1998). u There were seven deteriorated carcasses of gray whales on a beach near Shishmaref.

5 Changes: Marine Mammals u Walrus and ugruk intestines showed cysts especially around the kidneys. u Two seals at White Mountain and Shishmaref were completely hairless and the skin was completely black. u Still waiting for results on samples of two seals.

6 Changes: New Species u 10 years ago Silver Salmon started going by Diomede Island. Every year they are more abundant. u Trout and whitefish are back. u We are catching codfish with halibut lines. u A few miles south of Tin City at York River, chums have returned to the river to spawn for the first time. u Q: east or west of Tin City? See Ellen Richards’ comment

7 Changes: New Species u Golovin area - a jack king caught when ice fishing in November, 1997. A pink salmon, still bright, was caught in October, 1998. u Five years ago in Savoonga, I saw two small, dark birds - the size of snowbirds. Also a pretty yellow one. They survived and I saw one nesting in the ventilator of a house.

8 Changes: Increase in Beaver u Whitefish are only able to get halfway down from Whitefish Lake because of increase in beaver dams. u Increase in giardia - caribou, moose, and some birds have giardia too. u Beaver dams interfere with spawning. u Beaver are moving up north where they didn’t used to be

9 Changes: Increase in Bear u We counted 9 bears just from the coast to White Mountain. u Bears drive reindeer where we don’t want them to be and kill the fawns. u Bears have been tearing down cabins. u Clarify what was meant by “coast to White Mountain”.

10 Changes u Moose numbers are down in the Golovin area. 3 years ago (1995) we would see 30 to 40. Now we only see 3 or 4. u Musk ox numbers have increased. People think of them as pests because they take over berry patches. u Addition – Musk Ox compete with reindeer and caribou for food. But people have realized the meat is great and don’t complain too much anymore. Musk Ox were re-introduced in 1974 and 1976.

11 Changes: Caribou u Western arctic herd is 465,000 now and migrates from Barrow to Nulato Hills. At Onion Portage, there were caribou with swollen joints, bad white liver spots, and lungs stuck to the ribs. 12-15% (50% increase) show these signs. (1998) u Addition – there were collared caribou at Onion Portage and they made it to Kobuk around the 20 th of August, - sickness close to 15% u Onion Portage is about 22 miles below Ambler – the main place where caribou cross.

12 Changes: Caribou u 3,000 starved to death in 1995. They had rocks in their stomachs. They went out on the ice to commit suicide. u Caribou are returning to the Golovin area. u A caribou was caught with green pus around the organs. u Addition – We never knew why they went there and starved. Earl K_ of Pt. Hope – so near Pt. Hope. There were so many caribou and snow machiners tried to get them to move to land and they wouldn’t move.

13 Changes: Caribou u Reindeer are mixed up with caribou and are starving because of over- grazing. u Addition – reindeer are leaving their range and following caribou; they are being targets of hunters and for this and other reasons aren’t coming back to their ranges.

14 Changes: Health u Increased incidence of stomach cancer, asthma, Alzheimer’s u Higher cancer rates in some villages –Elim rates high for people 40-50 u Increased use of drugs and alcohol affecting newborns u Young people committing suicide u Question – Original statement: Do we mean no cancer in Shaktoolik or Koyuk among 40-50 year olds?

15 Changes: Health u Misdiagnosis of illness - pressure not to send patients to Anchorage for tests and evaluations because of medivac costs. u Indoor air quality - new HUD homes contain synthetic materials which may be carcinogenic. u Problems of smoke in unventilated bingo halls

16 Concerns: Seabirds u Fewer murres between Nome and Golovin. 50% of kittiwakes and murres didn’t return this year. The birds would just lay eggs and leave them. u Elders at fish camp reported seeing a lot fewer gulls. u Swans have increased dramatically.

17 Changes: Seabirds u Some sea gulls don’t have legs. u Eggs in nests are fewer and more shells are broken - greater scaup and other duck species u Summer 1996, Savoonga - die-offs of cormorants, puffins and murres. They were skinny u Q: was it ’97 not ’96? Check with Herman

18 Changes: Birds u Ptarmigan have not been seen in good numbers for a few years now. u Natives are conserving birds and then they just get killed by sports hunters in the lower 48. u Elders say the meat is getting tough. u Natives are forced not to hunt birds and then they just get killed by sports hunters in the lower 48.

19 Changes u In Kivalina people have noticed changes in the tint and taste of the water. It leaves a residue on dishes - the odor has changed. u Addition – at the time when they were getting water from a different area.

20 Changes: Weather, Ice, Currents u Ice around Savoonga usually goes out in early June. This year it was late June. u 20 years ago we had ice from Shaktoolik to Unalakleet - now there’s no ice 1.5-2 miles out. u Ice not freezing as thick. We used to hunt seal by snowmachine in late October - now it’s November. u Put in time frame

21 Changes: Weather, Ice, Currents u Last spring (1998) we only got 6 walrus because of weather and ice moving out too quick. u Ice was very thin and rotted very early - Wales area u We can’t use the water on top of the ice for drinking anymore because it is too dirty. u Identify were they got the six walrus

22 Changes: Weather, Ice, Currents u We started hearing thunder on Little Diomede Island in 1990. u Skin boats used to stay out 2-3 days but now the weather forces you to go home in a day or two. (Little Diomede) u We used to get northeast winds after northwest winds but now we are getting south winds which mess up the cycle for clamming. u Do you mean Big Diomede or Little Diomede?

23 Changes: Plants u Vegetation stunted or non-existent at some remediated military sites u Increase in willow u Musk ox are eating the sour dock. They also eat the roots of other plants and trample the land. u Greens are spoiling quicker than they used to. u Correction – they are eating the sour dock, not destroying it.

24 Possible Causes of Changes u Change in winds and weather could change how contaminants travel u Change in ice melt might not be only from warmer temperatures. It may be the sand flowing on the ice and melting it faster. u Fish normally eaten by birds have gone to deeper, cooler waters. This could be the reason for bird die-offs.

25 Possible Causes of Changes u The average temperature has risen in the last 20 years and we think it is melting the ice and raising the sea level. u Tagging species u People dumping tons of fish out on the high seas

26 Possible Causes of Changes u Poor indoor air quality u Lead based paint u Asbestos u Military sites leaking contaminants u Old batteries, waste oil, bad gas, refrigerators etc. buried in old landfills u Landfills too close to water sources

27 Possible Causes of Changes u Russian sources of contaminants - nuclear power plants, dumping of wastes u Loss of traditional values - everyone used to share and to help. That’s what makes it a joy to live in the world. u Berry combs destroy roots of plants.

28 Ideas for Action u Have conferences with Elders in their Native languages. It is difficult for elders to get out their thinking in English words. u Eat traditional foods - eating natural Native foods without any preservatives is part of keeping healthy.

29 Ideas for Action u Put a bounty on beaver. u Track migrating birds to see what happens to them - where they are hunted and in what numbers. u Work with communities to set their own standards for what is safe to consume.

30 Ideas for Action u Eat right, get exercise, stop smoking and be healthy. u Make sure the alcohol connection gets into our statistics.

31 Ideas for Action u Clean-up dangerous debris left by the military. u Put monitors in our area to monitor contaminants from Russia. u Make it possible for communities to test their foods for contaminants. u Addition – it is not just the military. It is also road construction, for example. So you have to look at other agencies as well.

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