Just east of the Kenai Peninsula in south central Alaska sits Prince William Sound: an inlet full of tidewater glaciers spanning 3,800 miles of coastline and flanked by the jagged Chugach Mountains. Home to several species of salmon and other fish, commercial fishing has been the main industry that has sustained its communities for decades. But warming waters caused by climate change has led to fewer fish stocks, making commercial fishing more challenging and less profitable.
“I never had any interest in buying a fishing permit or owning my own boat because I saw the changes happening,” says Rion Schmidt, a Sugpiaq Native who has worked in fishing and fish research his whole life. “Fewer and fewer fish, water warming up; I realized while I might be able to live a subsistence lifestyle and eat these foods, that making all my money off the fisheries might not be totally sustainable for someone like myself.”