2019 Status of Forage Species in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands region
A report on the status of forage species in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) region is prepared on a biennial basis and presented to the Plan Team and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) in odd years. This report is not intended to be a formal stock assessment, although forage populations are analyzed if data are available. The two main objectives of the report are to 1) investigate trends in the abundance and distribution of forage populations and 2) describe interactions between federal fisheries and species that make up the forage base (i.e., to monitor potential impacts of bycatch).
Because forage species are a fundamental component of the ecosystems in the BSAI, there is potential for overlap between the data presented here and forage-related information reported in the Ecosystem Considerations report published annually by the NPFMC. To minimize duplication of efforts, this report relies mainly on data from the bottom trawl surveys in the BSAI as well as acoustic-survey results where applicable. The Ecosystem Considerations report contains results from the surface-trawl surveys conducted by the Ecosystem Monitoring and Assessment (EMA) program (Yasumiishi et al. 2017), as well as estimates of euphausiid abundance from acoustic surveys (Ressler 2016). Indirect indicators of forage species abundance and prey availability, such as seabird breeding success and groundfish predator diets, are also described in the Ecosystem Considerations report. A brief summary of relevant findings from that report are included in this document’s “Summary of findings” section below, and in other relevant sections of the report.