The fish distribution program serves Bethel area Elders, widows and disabled individuals and families by providing them with salmon and whitefish. In 2019, 740 fish were distributed to over 200 Elders, disabled and widows in the community of Bethel. Our fish distribution program has been going on for 5+ years and in coordination with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Bethel test fishery project. Typically, the test fish crew goes fishing daily in the months of June, July and August at each AM and PM high tide. Our fisheries crew is then given the fish to distribute within the Bethel community. Prior to ONC distributing fish to Bethel households, ADF&G would put all of the fish in the community bin. ADF&G still uses the community bin, but not throughout the majority of the Chinook salmon season. While we are grateful for ADFG’s willingness to give away all of their fish, using the community bin for the entire fishing season is not equitable. The community test fish is not accessible by all, and especially by Elders, disabled and others who have no means for meeting their subsistence needs in any given year. The primary reason ONC began distributing fish was to address this inequity and ensure more Bethel area Elders, disabled and widows have at least some opportunity for a taste of fresh fish and to meet their subsistence needs.
Below are some pictures from fish distributions in the community over the years.