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Alaska Ecosystem Monitoring and Assessment

By understanding the relationship between fish species and their marine environment, we are able to enhance the accuracy of our fish stock estimates.

Pile of caught fish

Eastern Bering Sea sample stations.

Our goal is to improve and reduce uncertainty in stock assessment models of commercially important fish species by collecting, analyzing and incorporating observations of fish and oceanography into these models. Fish and oceanographic observations are used to connect climate change and variability in large marine ecosystems to early marine survival of commercially important fish species in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Arctic.

We conduct regular surveys in the southeastern Bering Sea using surface trawl and midwater acoustics to collect indices on fish size, relative abundance, energetic status, distribution, and diet. An example of the kind of information generated through these surveys is enhanced understanding of the connection between chum salmon populations and bycatch in the Bering Sea groundfish fisheries. We also collect oceanographic indices including conductivity-temperature at depth, nutrient levels, zooplankton (including jelly fish) and phytoplankton biomass and species assemblage.

We monitor changes in coastal and marine ecosystems, conduct research on climate-ecosystem linkages, and incorporate climate information into physical-biological models. This work helps us achieve NOAA Fisheries strategic goals of developing predictive models that anticipate the consequences of climate change on ecosystems.  Ultimately we should be able to develop future models that relate these fisheries-oceanographic indices to productivity of commercially important fish species (such as pollock, cod, herring, western Alaska salmon) in the southeastern Bering Sea.

The survey leverages Alaska Fisheries Science Center resources through partnerships in regional research programs such as North Pacific Research Board, FATE, the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission's Bering Aleutian Salmon International Survey (BASIS), the Bering Sea Fisherman’s Association, the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund, and the Arctic Yukon Kuskokwim Sustainable Salmon Fund.

Additional Resources