Fishing is Big Business for Alaska
For Alaska as a whole, fishing is big business, and it’s culturally important for indigenous peoples who depend on marine resources for sustenance. On a larger scale, the entire nation benefits from fish caught here. In fact, commercial harvest of groundfish, shellfish, salmon, and other resources in Alaska constitute more than 60 percent of marine fish landings in the United States. The Alaska pollock fishery is the largest and one of the most valuable, generating more than $1.9 billion annually.
To identify opportunities while ensuring sustainability, NOAA is working to better understand how changing environmental conditions in the Arctic are affecting marine resources.
Alaska’s Arctic coastline has historically been inaccessible to most forms of commercial fishing due to the presence of sea ice for most of the year. NOAA Fisheries is working to better understand what marine resources exist in this region (the “Arctic Management Area”), and whether those resources could support viable fishing operations, before permitting these waters for sustainable commercial fishing.
Fisheries Climate Science Strategy
In 2015 NOAA Fisheries developed a national climate science strategy to help scientists, fishermen, managers, and coastal businesses better understand what’s changing, what’s at risk, and what actions are needed to safeguard America’s valuable marine resources and the revenues, jobs, and communities that depend on them.
In 2016, we released regional action plans—including for the southeastern Bering Sea—with specific actions to help federal fishery managers sustain our marine resources for current and future generations. This plan details actions we’re taking to better track changing Arctic conditions, provide better forecasts, and identify best strategies to reduce impacts.
Further Understanding Arctic Change
Every year, NOAA scientists join dozens of scientists from around the world to produce the NOAA Arctic Report Card, which provides a snapshot of observed changes in temperature warming, sea ice loss, snow cover, ocean productivity (including fisheries), and other indicators. The research we conduct also funnels into other authoritative reports documenting Arctic change, specifically studies conducted by the International Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
In addition, NOAA Fisheries scientists and fishery managers (including those at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center and Alaska Regional Office) work routinely to research, inventory, and monitor ecosystems and changing conditions in the Arctic Ocean along Alaska's North Slope.