Bering Sea / Aleutian Islands Area
Subsistence Fishing

Fishing Information

For subsistence purposes, the Aleutian Islands are divided into five management districts, which from east to west are the Akutan District, Unalaska District, Umnak District, Atka-Amlia Islands District and the Adak District. The Unalaska District includes all waters west of Akutan Pass to and including Umnak Pass. All Alaska residents are eligible to participate in subsistence fisheries. Subsistence fisheries managed by ADF&G Division of Commercial Fisheries in the Aleutian Islands include Unalaska salmon and shellfish fisheries and salmon fisheries in the Adak District. A permit is required for subsistence salmon fishing in the Unalaska and Adak Districts. Subsistence permits for salmon fishing are not required in Akutan, Umnak, Pribilof Islands and Atka-Amlia areas.

Other than salmon, subsistence fisheries in the area include shellfish and halibut. Permits for the subsistence taking of shellfish are required only for King and Tanner Crab in the portion of the Alaska Peninsula-Aleutian Islands area west of Scotch Cap Light and east of 168? west longitude. Since 2003, a program for subsistence halibut fishing for rural Alaska residents has been managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Eligible, rural Alaska residents are required to obtain a Subsistence Halibut Registration Certificate (SHARC) prior to fishing. There are no annual harvest assessment programs for other subsistence finfish fisheries in the Aleutian Islands Area. Permits are required for the taking of trout and char, but no permit system is in place. Fish other than salmon maybe taken by gear specified in 5 AAC 01.010 (a).


Salmon drying on a rack All five species of Pacific salmon are resident to the Aleutian Islands. The species and number of salmon harvested for subsistence varies greatly among communities. This may be due to species preference within each community and annual differences in availability. Historically, sockeye salmon has been the most harvested salmon species for subsistence purposes in the Aleutian Islands followed by Coho salmon. According to a 2001 survey done by the Division of Subsistence in randomly selected Unalaska households, 4 percent of all salmon harvested for home use were removed from commercial catches, 62 percent were harvested with non-commercial nets, and 34 percent were taken with rod and reel. For further information about subsistence salmon regulations, waters closed for subsistence salmon harvest, and gear specifics in the Aleutian Islands, see subsistence finfish fishery regulations.


Aleutian native halibut hook In May 2003, federal regulations for subsistence halibut fishing were finalized and a harvest assessment program was implemented. Eligible, rural Alaska residents are required to obtain a Subsistence Halibut Registration Certificate (SHARC) from the Restricted Access Management Program (RAM) office of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Alaska office in Juneau prior to fishing. Contact information for the NMFS Juneau office can be found at Federal halibut subsistence harvest data for communities and tribes in the Aleutian Islands area is available to the public in several technical papers produced by the Subsistence Section. These papers can be accessed through the data and reports tab.


Black rockfish
Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops)
The diversity of ground fish species found in the Aleutian Islands includes for example Pacific cod, sablefish, Atka mackerel, and various rockfishes. Most ground fish species are caught commercially but subsistence use is common as well. Particularly abundant rock fish species in the area are black and dusky rockfish which are usually caught near shore.


Tanner Crab In most of the Aleutian Islands area, the taking of shellfish for subsistence purposes is allowed without permit. A permit is required for the taking of King and Tanner crab in the portion of the Alaska Peninsula-Aleutian Islands area west of Scotch Cap Light and east of 168 ? west longitude. These permits can be obtained from the ADF&G Dutch Harbor Division of Commercial fisheries office. For years 1999-2008, the average subsistence harvest of King crabs from waters surrounding Unalaska Island was 1,356 and 2,513 Tanner crabs. The majority of subsistence caught king crabs in the Unalaska Island area are caught with pot gear, or using SCUBA gear. For further details on subsistence harvest regulations for shellfish see subsistence shellfish fishery regulations.