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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Integrating Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska Climate Data in Socioeconomic Research

Spatial time series of various climate variables are obviously relevant to any economic model that will be used to analyze the potential effects of a change in climate on a fishery's spatial distribution of effort in the future. This project aims to improve fishery models in economics by augmenting them with area-specific information on ice coverage, winds, sea surface height, and potentially, primary productivity (see Quarterly Report, Jan-Mar 2007 issue). The first area of research to utilize climate data is in fisher location choice models. These models incorporate observable information on the vessel characteristics, expected returns from choosing an area, and travel distance. A second area of research will examine spatial correlation of fishery economic productivity and climate. A third is to utilize time series of climate data in economic models of fishery dynamics.

Recently two undergraduates from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington completed research projects that compiled data on daily sea surface temperatures (SST) and other weather variables for use in spatial econometric models. In the first project, the student worked with NOAA's Pacific Fishery Environmental Laboratory staff to obtain and process information from the moored buoy "M2," and then she processed data from NOAA's National Buoy Data Center for other moored buoys in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska (including data for some Canadian buoys; see Fig. 1 from The second project involved processing daily weather data (minimum/maximum air temperature and precipitation) from a few dozen weather stations located in coastal areas of Alaska near ports and shore-side processing facilities.

Work on the first project will continue through at least September 2008. Next steps in the project will be to retrieve SST time series from GIS layers of satellite SST data at the same locations as the moored buoys and make a formal comparison. In addition, GIS layers with wind vectors will also be made available.

By Mike Dalton, Alan Haynie, Angie Grieg, and Dusanka Poljak

Regional Economic Data Collection Projects

A total of 1,504 mail surveys have been sent out in conjunction with two regional economic data collection projects in the southwest and gulf coast regions of Alaska. These mail surveys elicit information about crew participation and earnings in the respective regions.

To date we have received 349 responses for a response rate of about 23%. Among the three different vessel classes (small, medium, and large vessel classes) the response rates for the small vessel classes is the highest (25% for southwest and gulf coast regions) while the response rates for the large vessel classes are the lowest (18% and 22% for southwest and gulf coast regions, respectively). There is no significance difference in total response rate between the two regions (southwest region–23%, gulf coast region–24%). The contractor administering the survey, Hans Geier at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is calling the vessel owners who did not respond to the mail surveys and trying to conduct phone interviews (instead of mail surveys) with them to increase the response rates.

The projects also use two additional, distinct approaches to collect vessel cost information. First, a cost engineering approach is being used for estimating the vessel operating costs. Second, a local business survey is being used to collect other cost information. Hans Geier uses these two approaches to estimate the expenditures of the vessels. After these tasks are completed, the contractor will start documenting the results from the projects. In the final phase of the projects a regional economic model will be developed for fisheries in and off Alaska.

By Chang Seung

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