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Essential Fish Habitat Proposals Reviewed

Proposals for FY09 Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) funding recently were solicited from Alaska Fisheries Science Center and NMFS Alaska Regional Office staff. Project selection for EFH research is based on research priorities from the EFH Research Implementation Plan for Alaska. Approximately $450,000 is spent on about 10 EFH research projects each year.

Research priorities are:

  1. Coastal areas facing development.
  2. Characterization of habitat utilization and productivity.
  3. Sensitivity, impact, and recovery of disturbed benthic habitat.
  4. Validation and improvement of habitat impacts model.
  5. Seafloor mapping.

The Habitat and Ecological Processes Research (HEPR) team completed a scientific rating of the 2009 proposals in mid-November. Alaska Regional Office Acting Deputy Regional Administrator Jon Kurland and HEPR Program Leader Mike Sigler agreed on rankings based on the scientific review and management priorities.

One change from previous years is that habitat recovery rate proposals were given higher priority this year. In past solicitations, few studies were proposed to estimate recovery rates of corals and sponges, yet these estimates are needed for habitat impacts modeling. The management prioritization generally followed the science ranking but a few changes were made to reflect the relevance of the proposals for fishery management decisions.

Twelve projects were recommended for funding in the order shown in Table 1 below. Five of these projects are recovery rate studies, six are continuing EFH studies, and one is a new study.

Table 1.  Essential Fish Habitat proposals recommended for funding for Fiscal Year 2009.
Cost Principal Investigators Title
$105,900   Malecha, Heifetz   Recovery of deep-water sponges and sea whips from bottom trawling
$12,000   Zimmermann, Floering,
Van Syoc, Stabeno
  Invertebrate colonization of Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory (PMEL) moorings
$38,000   Malecha, Stone   Recruitment and response to damage of an Alaskan gorgonian coral
$65,000   Johnson, Thedinga   Nearshore fish assemblages in the Arctic: establishment of monitoring sites in a rapidly changing environment from energy development and climate change
$20,000   Ryer, Laurel, Knoth   Contrasting predation intensity and distribution in two rock sole nursery areas: a principal factor controlling nursery productivity - Component A
$77,800   Yeung, Yang, McConnaughey   Characterization of benthic infauna community for modeling essential fish habitat in the eastern Bering Sea - reduced plan
$34,446   Bailey, Chan   Year 2: Assessing the physical and temporal aspects of pollock spawning habitat utilization in Shelikof Strait, Gulf of Alaska
$41,600   Laurel, Ryer, Parrish,
Stoner, Knoth, Urban
  Productivity, habitat utilization, and recruitment dynamics of Pacific cod
$23,200   Rooper, Heintz, Aydin, Boldt   Characterize habitat utilization and productivity for rockfish species
$8,000   Harris   Natural and man-made disturbance of eelgrass beds in northern southeastern Alaska: damage and recovery
$13,000   Ryer, Laurel, Knoth   Contrasting predation intensity and distribution in two rock sole nursery areas: a principal factor controlling nursery productivity - Component B
$68,000   Ormseth, Norcross, Holladay   Utilization of nearshore habitat by fishes in Nushagak and Togiak Bays (Bristol Bay)

By Mike Sigler


Download the complete research report:  PDF; 6.35 MB.  (To view and print this document, you must install Adobe Acrobat Reader freeware. Adobe also offers free tools for the visually disabled.)

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