Assessing seabird harvest sustainability is difficult because of limited information on harvest and on harvest impacts on seabird populations. This study quantified seasonal harvest of seabirds and their eggs in all Alaska regions, addressed management and conservation questions, and identified topics where collaboration among stakeholders can support sustainable harvest opportunities and promote seabird conservation. In 2002–2015, the estimated subsistence harvest of seabirds was 24,315 birds/year. Murres (33%), auklets (28%), gulls (16%), and cormorants (14%) represented most of the harvest. Alaska-wide harvest patterns largely reflected harvest at the St. Lawrence–Diomede Islands, which represented 78% of the total seabird harvest. The Alaska-wide seasonal distribution of harvest was 56% in spring, 20% summer, and 24% fall-winter. The estimated egg harvest was 150,781 eggs/year and was largely composed of murres (51%) and gulls (45%) eggs. Harvest of most species, including species of conservation concern, was low relative to population sizes. However, harvest of eggs of terns may be significant compared to coastal egg productivity. A better understanding of threats to populations of terns is needed to clarify conservation priorities and to engage subsistence users in conservation efforts. Despite indications of reduced subsistence uses, harvesting of seabirds and their eggs remains culturally important and is a food security component in remote communities in Alaska.
Polar Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 9, 2018
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