For many years non-Native sport fishermen have come to the Yup'ik homeland in Western Alaska for the salmon, trout, and grayling fishing. Sport fishermen may catch (and commonly release) ten or twenty fish a day.
The sport fishermen bring cash and, since they are practicing catch-and-release fishing, the resource - which the Yup'ik use for subsistence - isn't being damaged. Why should the Yup'ik care?
Ann Fienup-Riordan, an anthropologist working in the area in the 1970s and '80s, found they did care, and that the aggravation in certain Yup'ik circles went beyond the amused contempt locals anywhere normally feel for tourists. "Catch-and-release" violated traditional Yup'ik ideas of conservation, which required retention, and proper treatment of the remains, rather than catch-and-release. By practicing catch-and-release, the sport fishermen were - in Yup'ik eyes - threatening the future availability of fish.
The Yup’ik Eskimo of Nelson Island thought that the animals they depended on for food and materials behaved purposefully. The animals offered themselves for harvest to people who treated them with respect. Among other things, respect required that the offer be accepted and the animals consumed. The rules of respect also governed the treatment of the animal remains.
Fienup-Riordan thought that the Nelson Islanders believed and acted as if the local stocks of animals, birds, and fish were "infinitely renewable" - that renewable resource stocks couldn't be depleted by harvest:
Hunters believed that animals gave themselves to them by virtue of proper attitude and action in the context of both human and animal/human interaction. Hunters viewed animals as an infinitely renewable resource possessing both immortal souls and awareness comparable to that of human persons. By this view, human predation could not directly affect animal populations adversely. Rather human activity was instrumental only insofar as it was able to influence reactive decisions in the animal and spirit worlds. A hunter did not act on a finite population of animals, only on their accessibility.
Non-resident anglers practicing catch-and-release, behaved disrespectfully: "To hook such a person in the mouth and then replace it in the water constitutes senseless abuse, not sport."
In another context Fienup-Riordan finds that a failure to harvest animals that make themselves available for harvest is disrespectful. That could apply in this sport fishing context as well.
F-R doesn't speculate about how this perspective might have evolved. However, for a small community, dependent on migratory fish, mammals, and birds, animals that aren't harvested while they are available are gone. They may be subject to harvest by other groups, upstream, or further north, or further south. The community could easily find that an infinite discount rate was appropriate to these species. An infinite discount rate is not the same thing as assuming that resources can't be depleted by harvest, but in this case both assumptions would promote intense harvest.
Did the community have different rules of "respect" to animals that were migratory and non-migratory. Did they treat local animals and plants with a set of more cautious rules that would tend to conserve the resource?
Fienup-Riordan wrote her essay ("Original Ecologists?: The Relationship between Yup'ik Eskimos and Animals" in her collection Eskimo Essays. Yup'ik Lives and How We See Them) over 20 years ago, in 1987. How have traditional attitudes have evolved since then?
Robert McGhee pointed out that a similar worldview was held by other Arctic peoples: Over-exploiting the Arctic Animal Commons.