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Alaska Marine Ecosystem Considerations for 2013: Draft Report Released September 2012

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The Ecosystem Considerations report is produced annually for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council as part of the Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report. The goal of the Ecosystem Considerations report is to provide an overview of marine ecosystems in Alaska through ecosystem assessments and tracking time series of ecosystem indicators. The ecosystems under consideration include the eastern Bering Sea, the Aleutian Islands, and the Gulf of Alaska. This year, the report includes a preliminary Arctic ecosystem assessment.

The intent of adding the Alaskan Arctic to the Ecosystem Considerations report is to provide an overview of general ecosystem information that may form the basis for more comprehensive future Arctic assessments that would be useful for fishery managers making decision on the authorization of new fisheries. Consistent with ecosystem assessments of the eastern Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and Aleutian Islands, we intend for the future Arctic assessments to include a list of indicators that directly address ecosystem-level processes and attributes that can inform fishery management advice by communicating indicator history, current status, and possible future directions.

The draft report includes additional new and updated sections. The section describing ecosystem and management indicators includes updates to 23 individual contributions and presents 3 new contributions. These include: 1) Trends in surface carbon uptake by phytoplankton during late summer to early fall, 2) Gulf of Alaska ichthyoplankton abundance indices, and 3) Spatial variability of catches in Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska crab fisheries.

The September draft report was reviewed by the Council’s Groundfish Plan Teams and Science and Statistical Committee. An updated draft will be presented to the Plan Teams in November, and a final report will be presented to the Science and Statistical Committee and Council Advisory Board in December when the 2013 groundfish quotas are set.

 By Stephani Zador

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