Attributes of the Eastern Chukchi Sea Food Web with Comparisons to Three Northern Marine Ecosystems

There is growing recognition that the Arctic is threatened by multiple human impacts including climate change and increased activities resulting from greater access due to retreating sea ice. Arctic sea ice cover has declined about 3% per decade over the satellite record (1979-present), with the six lowest annual sea ice minima occurring in the last 6 years (2007-12). The Alaska Arctic contains large petroleum reserves, and human activities related to energy extraction are expected to increase in the near future. Further reductions in the extent of Arctic sea ice could improve access for the oil and shipping industries and also has spurred interest in understanding what changes in sea ice coverage could mean for future Arctic fisheries. The Alaska Arctic is presently home to several subsistence fisheries and marine mammal harvests. The development of new commercial fisheries in the Alaska Arctic is currently prohibited by the Arctic Fishery Management Plan until sufficient research has been conducted to allow for adequate evaluation of the ecological impact of commercial fishing. Thus, there is great need for the development of modeling and other decision-support tools that can synthesize existing knowledge of Arctic marine ecosystems and foster an improved understanding of ecosystem structure, function, and sensitivity to human activities.

ASAP helps build essential climate resilience for communities across the country by focusing on connecting and supporting the individuals. We provide a platform for climate adaptation leaders to interact, share what’s working, and collaborate with their colleagues.

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Fishery Biologist

Shellfish genetics could be the key to climate change adaptation

A recent NOAA study found that by 2040, Alaskan shellfish hatcheries may no longer be sustainable because of ocean acidification, unless serious mitigation efforts are put in place. We recently reported on a hatchery in Oregon that’s become a model for adapting to these different conditions. But the long term solution may actually lie in shellfish genes. Evolution and resiliency are the buzzwords for a sustainable mariculture industry in Alaska, a state that is particularly vulnerable.

Sector Management In New England’s Groundfish Fishery: Dramatic Change Spurs Innovation

The implementation of sector management in New England’s groundfish fishery sparked dramatic changes in every aspect of the industry, forcing an unprecedented level of innovation and adjustment. The switch from the effort controls of days-at-sea to the output controls of sector allocation, prompted primarily by federal mandates, changed everything from a fisherman’s pre-trip planning to business arrangements that get fish from the vessel to the table. Some fishermen are leaving the fishery, unable to compete in an era of tight catch limits, rising operational costs, and a redistribution of fishing privileges. Others are finding that the greater flexibility that sector management affords, with the option to lease additional allocation, and improved market conditions offer advantages over the days-at-sea system. The change to sectors sparked debates about the size and composition of the fleet, the role of private markets in establishing access to a public resource, and the adequacy of assessment science to set catch limits suitable to the new system. These debates are essential and may well lead to modifications in the management process.

This paper describes the key elements of sector management and outlines the extent and scale of the change it heralds. After just two years of operating under sectors, the region’s fishing industry, fisheries managers, and nonprofit community have responded with rapid innovation. Examples abound of that new thinking. Meanwhile, innovation also faces barriers. Finally, the region’s fishing communities could explore new avenues for maximizing the benefits of the sector system. Adaptation and innovation are central themes, recognizing that sector management introduced huge new challenges while opening new opportunities for the region’s fishing communities.

Potential Impacts of Climate Change on California’s Fish and Fisheries

In California much work is being done at the local and state levels to mitigate the effects of climate change, and develop adaptation strategies. In particular, California recently released for public comment “Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk” – an update to the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Assessment. In it, decision makers specifically highlight the need to improve understanding of climate risks to biodiversity and habitat, among other recommendations.

This report reviews aspects of the latest scientific literature on the potential impacts of climate change on California’s fish and fisheries. It provides a general overview of possible impacts on upwelling and primary ocean productivity, and information on how ocean temperature, stratification, and changes in wind and currents may affect the distribution and range and productivity of fish species of commercial and recreational value.

Led by Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT) member Dr. Bill Sydeman of the Farallon Institute, this report provides valuable information on the state of the science of the risks posed by climate change to California’s marine ecosystems and fisheries. While not designed as a vulnerability assessment for individual species, this report lays the necessary groundwork for such an investigation in the future.

Gulf of Mexico: Ocean Acidification

What is ocean acidification? Every day, the ocean absorbs approximately one-third of the carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels and clear land. When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, it becomes an acid. This acid is lowering the pH of ocean water. pH is an important vital sign of ocean health, and its rapid change raises a red fl ag. Scientists refer to this shift in ocean chemistry as ocean acidifi cation.

How fast is ocean chemistry changing? Ocean acidifi cation is happening faster than it has in the past 300 million years, catapult- ing us into unknown territory. Since the Industrial Revolution, the world’s oceans have become 30 percent more acidic, on average. Scientists predict the acidity of our oceans could double or triple by the end of the century compared to preindustrial times.

How might ocean acidification affect marine life? As seas become more acidic, they become inhospitable to some sea life. Rising acidity robs seawater of carbonate ions, an essential ingredient used by creatures like shellfi sh and corals to build their shells. In slightly more acidic water, they must expend more energy to build shells, which may leave them less able to fi nd food or reproduce. On the extreme end, if seawater becomes acidic enough, shells literally dissolve, which can be disastrous for survival.

Will all sea life be negatively affected? Not all ocean organisms will be harmed by ocean acidifi cation. We know that some creatures—corals, clams, oysters, scallops, and some forms of plankton—are sensitive to these chemical changes. More research is needed to fully understand how declines in sensitive species could ripple across the food web and cause harm to commercial finfish.

Ocean Acidification and Alaska Fisheries: Views and Voices of Alaska’s Fishermen, Marine Industries and Coastal Residents

In winter 2011-2012 the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) sponsored community roundtable discussions on ocean acidification and Alaska fisheries in the fisheries-dependent communities of Homer, Kodiak and Dillingham in southern Alaska.

The roundtables were designed to engage coastal Alaskans and members of the Alaska seafood industry whose lives and local economies will be affected by changes linked to ocean acidification (OA). Specifically, the roundtables were intended to accomplish three inter-related goals: 1) bring together the efforts and expertise of scientists, subsistence harvesters, commercial fishermen, natural resources managers and coastal residents to better assess and address the impacts of OA on local fisheries and livelihoods; 2) develop ideas and advance dialogue concerning the needs and potential contributions of fishermen and fishing communities in responding to the threat posed by OA; and 3) provide insight into how the fishing industry might engage in policy action related to OA in the future.

NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy

The oceans are dynamic systems. That’s why striking the right balance between use and protection of marine and coastal resources has always been a complicated process, whether its setting fishing levels, reducing by-catch, recovering endangered species, or considering permits for oil and gas exploration. Incorporating climate change into decision-making makes these efforts more challenging than ever before. Increased information, tools and action are essential to meeting these challenges.

This NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy (Strategy) was developed to meet the growing demand for information to better prepare for and respond to climate-related impacts on the nation’s living marine resources and resource-dependent communities. The Strategy is part of a proactive approach to increase the production, delivery and use of climate-related information to fulfill NOAA Fisheries mandates in a changing climate. Implementing this Strategy will help reduce impacts and increase the resilience of our valuable living marine resources, and the people, businesses and communities that depend on them.

Impacts of climate change on marine ecosystem production in societies dependent on fisheries

Growing human populations and changing dietary preferences are increasing global demands for fish1 concerns over fisheries sustainability2. Here we develop and link models of physical, biological and human responses to climate change in 67 marine national exclusive economic zones, which yield approximately 60% of global fish catches, to project climate change yield impacts in countries with di!erent dependencies onmarine fisheries3. Predicted changes in fish production indicate increased productivity at high latitudes and decreased productivity at low/mid latitudes, with considerable regional variations. With few exceptions, increases and decreases in fish production potential by 2050 are estimated to be <10% (mean +3.4%) from present yields. Among the nations showing a high dependency on fisheries3, climate change is predicted to increase productive potential in West Africa and decrease it in South and Southeast Asia. Despite projected human population increases and assuming that per capita fish consumption rates will be maintained1 ongoing technological development in the aquaculture industry suggests that projected global fish demands in 2050 could be met, thus challenging existing predictions of inevitable shortfalls in fish supply by the mid-twenty-first century4. This conclusion, however, is contingent on successful im- plementation of strategies for sustainable harvesting and e!ective distribution of wild fish products from nations and regions with a surplus to those with a deficit. Changes in management e!ectiveness2 and trade practices5 will remain the main influence on realized gains or losses in global fish production.