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Resource Ecology & Fisheries Management (REFM) Division

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Oct-Nov-Dec 2010
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Resource Ecology and Ecosystem Modeling Program

Seabird Investigations

The AFSC's Coordinated Seabird Studies Group serves a broad suite of end-users and is highly collaborative, relying on many in and outside the AFSC to produce products that interest the group's end-users. The group relies on the AFSC's Fisheries Management and Analysis (FMA) Division to produce high-quality data through fisheries observers deployed to commercial fishing vessels in the Alaskan groundfish fisheries.

In the past, the Coordinated Seabrid Studies Group has worked closely with the Washington Sea Grant Program on seabird mitigation, which now includes the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) Program, which provides the seabird component for observer training. Several other contractors are key to the success the program has achieved.

The Group's current products focus primarily on seabird interactions with commercial fisheries, including basic data on seabird bycatch; a wide array of other information and data from the field, including the collection of seabird carcasses for life history and food habits research; improving methods for monitoring seabird bycatch; monitoring the effectiveness of seabird mitigation measures; supporting or conducting research into bycatch mitigation measures; completing annual reports of seabird bycatch estimates in Alaskan groundfish fisheries; and making all this information available through conference presentations and posters, AFSC Quarterly and Processed Reports and Technical Memoranda, white papers, and journal articles.

One of our top priorities is to develop systems and processes for producing annual reports of seabird bycatch estimates for the Alaska Groundfish Fisheries. We are currently collaborating closely with the Sustainable Fisheries Division in the NMFS Alaska Regional Office to provide some automation of that previously staff-intense process by using the Catch Accounting System.

Although much of our core work currently involves seabird/fishery interactions and serving the needs of clients such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we are also working with the National Seabird Program and other science centers to make apparent the great value of using seabirds as a tool for studies on marine ecosystems and processes.

As the core fishery interaction work is developed and stabilized with appropriate funding, we hope to report on this much broader aspect of NOAA’s involvement with seabirds in Alaskan waters.

By Shannon Fitzgerald

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