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Integrating Ecosystem Aspects And Climate Change Forecasting Into Stock Assessments

July 01, 2011

Alaska Fisheries Science Center Quarterly Report


Ellipses representing 30% probability contours of bivariate normal distributions fit to EBS survey CPUE data for arrowtooth flounder for the five coldest (blue; 1994, 1999, 2008-2010) and warmest (red; 1996, 1998, 2003-2005) years from 1982 to 2010.

There is a growing recognition that global climate conditions are changing. Understanding what these changes are and how they impact the Earth's marine ecosystems are two of NOAA's strategic goals. In response, scientists at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Status of Stocks and Multispecies Assessment (SSMA) program have collaborated with climate scientists and oceanographers at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory to develop new modeling tools to better project how climate change will alter the production and distribution of commercial fish off Alaska.

The models provide science-based support for long-range spatial planning and management of these commercial fisheries. This partnership between NOAA branch offices serves as an example of how NOAA can build interdisciplinary research teams to inform managers and the public of the timing and magnitude of the impacts of climate change on commercial fish.

Three examples of methods for incorporating climate change scenarios into stock assessments and two examples of statistical methods for evaluating climate impacts on fish distribution are presented. Each example was informed by advancements in understanding the mechanistic linkages between climate, the ocean, and marine fish and fisheries, which allowed analysts to develop functional relationships for use in stock projections. The studies relied on the AFSC’s innovative approach to data collection, which includes real-time oceanographic data acquisition aboard active fishing and research vessels.

Research Contributors & Funding Sources

Valuable knowledge of the functional relationships linking fish responses to climate or ocean forcing was obtained from process-oriented research conducted by the AFSC Ecosystems Fisheries and Oceanography Coordinated Investigations program (Eco-FOCI). The advancements in modeling capability were facilitated by funding from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Fisheries and the Environment (FATE) program, the Bering Sea Integrated Research Program (BSIERP) funded by the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB), and the Bering Sea Ecosystem Study (BEST) funded by the National Science Foundation.

Additional Resources