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Loss of Sea Ice Funding Received

The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) received $1.2 million for loss of sea ice research in FY 2010. These new funds will be used to expand the southeast Bering Sea bottom trawl survey northward to the Bering Strait and to conduct ice seal research.

The AFSC’s Groundfish Assessment Program will complete the northward expansion of the trawl survey. With this expansion, all of the eastern Bering Sea shelf within U.S. waters will be surveyed. The full sampling capabilities of the existing trawl survey will be replicated on the northern extension including bottom trawling and plankton and oceanographic sampling. The project also will support development of an annotated checklist of epibenthic marine invertebrates for the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean because these species are more common farther north.

The AFSC’s Polar Ecosystems Program will begin a 5-year plan to conduct aerial abundance surveys for ribbon, spotted, and bearded seals in the Bering Sea and in the Sea of Okhotsk and for ringed seals in the Beaufort, Chukchi, and northern Bering Seas. The abundances of these species, protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and considered for listing under the U. S. Endangered Species Act , are very poorly documented. Preparation and detailed survey design will be conducted in 2010 and 2011 for the ribbon, spotted, and bearded seal surveys. These surveys will be conducted in both U.S. and Russian waters in 2012 and 2013, and the data will be analyzed in 2014. In addition, a design for surveys for ringed seals will be developed and implemented to commence in 2014.

Ocean Acidification Funding Received

The AFSC received $380,000 for ocean acidification research in FY 2010. These new funds primarily will be used to conduct species-specific physiological research. The species-specific physiological response to ocean acidification is unknown for most marine species. Lacking basic knowledge, research will be directed toward several taxa including king crab, euphausiids, coldwater corals, walleye pollock, and Pacific cod. The research will be conducted at the Kodiak, Auke Bay, and Newport Laboratories. Work also will begin on incorporating results into a king crab bioeconomic model; this work will be completed by the AFSC’s Socioeconomics Assessment Program in Seattle.

By Mike Sigler


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