Traditional foods, corporate controls: networks of household access to key marine species in southern Bering Sea villages
Southern Bering Sea fishermen are vulnerable to losing access to key fisheries due largely to policy changes, permit loss, and the expense of fishing operations. Local residents generally do not have fishing rights in many of the high value commercial fisheries. They must continuously shape policy and explore alternative economies in order to stay fishermen. We were contracted by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to study the role of subsistence and commercial fisheries, land use, socioeconomics, and sharing networks in Alutiiq and Aleut/Unangan villages. Through an exploration of these data using innovative social network analysis that presents relationships, social stratification, commercialisation, and other dependencies in the maintenance of fisheries, sharing, trading, and revenue streams, this paper shows that in two of the most socioeconomically valuable fisheries, king crab (Paralithodes sp. and Lithodes sp) and cod (Gadidae), local peoples have had to gain access to these foods by using means outside of what are academically perceived as their traditional subsistence and commercial allocation, resulting in adaptive networks of distribution. This work shows the range of networks surrounding these key foods and their associated vulnerabilities and resilience. Those sharing networks that demonstrate greater interconnectedness are much more stable and resilient.