Let's draw some lines about subsistence

Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2000

When will Mr. Rosier figure it out? A rural preference for subsistence does not violate anyone's ``right'' to equal access. It is just a way to qualify harvesters for one of several provisions that Alaskans gather fish and game under.

Yes, as Mr. Rosier (in a recent editorial page piece) indicated all Alaskans have rights of equal access to Alaska's fish and game resources under our state's constitution. However, Mr. Rosier confuses his readers by leading them to believe that under Alaska's constitution access to subsistence allocations is a constitutional right. This is not true. Subsistence in Alaska is not a right but a privilege - just as commercial, sport and personal hunting and fishing are privileges. A person qualifies for each of these provisions in different ways. In the case of commercial fishing, you must buy an entry permit. This does not deny nonpermit holders access, it just defines what one must do to qualify to commercially harvest fish. In the case of proposed rural preference for subsistence privileges, one would have to live within certain boundaries to qualify for subsistence.

It stumps me that a former Alaska Department of Fish and Game commissioner's version of equal access to Alaska's fish and game is an unqualified resource grab that generates absolutely no revenue of the state. Currently, ADF&G's budget for the management of these resources is pathetic and Mr. Rosier just wants to give it away to every Alaskan rich or poor, and regardless of location or need. This is not equal access - it's terminal welfare. Run this scenario out 20 years and there will be no sport hunting, no sport fishing, no license sales, no commercial fishing and no tax base. ADF&G will be broke and all Alaskans will have to show for their fish and game resources is a bunch of combat subsisters running around in air boats, four-wheelers and snowmobiles.

Alaska has to draw the line somewhere and a rural preference should be it. The federal government has clearly said that you can not discriminate by race, so how else should we qualify subsistence access? Simple. Draw lines in the sand. I'm sure Mr. Rosier did this as a little boy; most boys do. It is the way things like this get worked out. I invite Mr. Rosier to come on down, get in the sandbox with the rest of us and let's get down to it.

Once the lines have been drawn and if your house is outside the lines, you have the constitutional right to move. We all do.

Scott McAllister


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