How is climate change affecting subsistence fisheries in the high Arctic?

Published: 2018
Product type: Science Brief
Categories: Sea Ice

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The Arctic is experiencing pronounced environmental changes with significant implications for Indigenous peoples who rely heavily on wild game, fish, and other resources. Decreasing sea ice, thinning lake and river ice, thawing permafrost, thaw slumps, erosion, storm surges, unpredictable weather, inland drying, shifting ranges and abundance of resources, and the potential for increased commercial fisheries development all pose challenges for traditional hunting and fishing livelihoods.

Why it matters

Traditional hunting and fishing ways of life are the cultural and economic lifeblood of Arctic communities. In the U. S . Arctic , communities harvest over 400 pounds of wild foods per person per year. Far more than just a food source, subsistence practices for Arctic Indigenous peoples form the basis of rural economies, culture, identity, spirituality, health and wellbeing. Current and projected environmental and linked social changes threaten the integrity of these systems.