Northeastern Bering Sea Ecosystem Assessment

The fishery and oceanographic survey in the Northeastern Bering Sea combines surface trawl and midwater acoustics to collect indices on fish size, relative abundance, energetic status, distribution, and diet.

Survey codend being brought to sorting table in Northeastern Bering Sea.

Survey codend being brought to sorting table in Northeastern Bering Sea.

Pelagic trawl (surface trawl and mid water acoustics) and oceanographic data collected during the Northern Bering Sea survey are used to improve understanding of the pelagic ecosystem and assist efforts aimed at reducing uncertainty in harvest management of fishery resources important to Alaskan commercial and subsistence fisheries. The survey addresses how species distribution and marine food webs are altered by climate and seasonal loss of Arctic sea ice in the Bering Sea. The survey also provides key information on the distribution and abundance of forage fish species (capelin, herring, sandlance, and rainbow smelt), allowing scientists to understand how forage fish population dynamics affect the food chain to apex predators and harvested fish populations that prey on forage fish. Additionally, the survey the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission with important information on the status of juvenile salmon populations in the Bering Sea.

Recent closures of commercial and sport fisheries and restricted subsistence harvests of Yukon River salmon have underscored the need for additional information on the production dynamics and for reduced uncertainty in pre-season assessments of Yukon River salmon. Juvenile salmon data are currently used as an early indicator of brood-year strength in order to reduce uncertainty in the pre-season assessment of Yukon River salmon stocks by the Yukon River Panel and the Yukon River Joint Technical Committee.

The survey leverages AFSC resources through partnerships in regional research programs such as NPRB, 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.

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