Federal grant will fund efforts by the Southeast Alaska Native Transboundary Commission and Wrangell Cooperative Association to collect data on the amount of fish and other seafood consumed by Indigenous people who reside in Wrangell .
The grant of $ 129,343 for the two-year project was awarded by the Office of Indian Affairs, Office of Trust Services Tribal Climate Resilience.
“Our food is safe and healthy to eat,” said Rob Sanderson Jr., President of SEITC. “It is important that it stays that way for our future generations. “
The project will provide data to help the state of Alaska set water quality standards to protect those who eat a lot of seafood. The data will also be shared with federal officials and the public. Water quality standards derived from fish consumption data are used to help control the amount of contaminants released under state-authorized wastewater permits.
“Alaska is unique in that we still have a vast resource of clean water,” said Frederick Olsen Jr., executive director of SEITC. “In the south, 40% of all water is too contaminated to eat fish that could live there. “
SEITC officials noted that Alaska now uses the estimate of 6.5 grams per day per person, less than a mouthful, to calculate these water quality standards. The US Environmental Protection Agency has set the current rate of fish consumption at 22 grams per day per person and recommends 142.4 grams per day for subsistence use areas. Oregon and Washington State both set fish consumption rates at 175 grams per day. The EPA recommended that fish consumption rates be based on local data.
“This survey is the first of its kind in Southeast Alaska,” said Esther Ashton, tribal administrator for the Wrangell Cooperative Association. “We need to be sure that as Alaska develops we don’t lose access to our country foods. “