NOAA logo ond 1998 Quarterly Rpt. sidebar

Resource Assessment &
Conservation Engineering

(Quarterly Report for Oct-Nov-Dec 1998)

Continued Participation in ADF&G Seasonality Study of Marmot Bay near Kodiak Island

The AFSC continued cooperative participation in the third phase of a Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) seasonal bottom trawl study of Marmot Bay off Kodiak and Afognak Islands in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) 26-31 October aboard the ADF&G research vessel Resolution. The primary purpose of the study, which includes sampling already completed in June and August and additional sampling periods scheduled for January, March, and June 1999, is to document seasonal trends in depth and inshore/offshore distribution of crab and groundfish resources including Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi), Pacific cod, walleye pollock, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, rock sole, yellowfin sole, and skates. Additionally, the seasonal nature of the sampling design will provide quantitative measures of changes in co-occurrence of the demersal groundfish and crab complex, document the changes in distribution of Pacific cod relative to Federal and state waters, and document intra-annual changes in the distribution of Tanner crab associated with maturation. Along with these objectives, the ADF&G invited AFSC scientists to conduct ancillary studies including specimen collections, food habit studies, research in seasonal gonad development, and size-at-maturity for selected species.

Thirty-one bottom trawl samples were completed during the October sampling period with the ADF&G standard 400-mesh Eastern survey trawl at depths ranging from 35 to 250 m.  All catches were sampled and processed to obtain species composition by weight for all components of the catch. Length frequencies were obtained electronically for all commercial groundfish species. Additionally, Geoff Lang of the AFSC’s Resource Ecology and Ecosystem Modeling Program and Dan Nichol of the RACE Division Groundfish Program expanded the stomach and otolith collections begun in June to include additional commercial species such as flathead sole and arrowtooth flounder and initiated a reproductive study of Pacific cod and flathead sole.

By Eric Brown.

FOCI Sponsored Bering Sea Workshop

Many indications of unusual conditions in the Bering Sea during the summers of 1997 and 1998 prompted Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigation (FOCI) leaders Drs. Art Kendall (AFSC) and Phyllis Stabeno (Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL)) to convene an international workshop to discuss the recent observations.  More than 70 participants from a broad range of expertise, disciplines, and geographic areas attended.  The workshop was held on 9-10 November 1998, in Seattle.

The Bering Sea ecosystem is of particular concern because the eastern Bering Sea provides almost half of the fish and shellfish caught in the United States.  The implications of recent environmental changes on management of living marine resources was a prominent theme during the workshop. Proceedings of the workshop are available on the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean web site at

By Art Kendall.

Move to New Kodiak Fisheries Research Center

In October 1998 AFSC staff moved into the new Kodiak Fisheries Research Center on Near Island in Kodiak, Alaska. The Kodiak Fisheries Research Center is the primary facility for the RACE Division’s Shellfish Assessment Program.  The new Kodiak Fisheries Research Center was built and is owned by the Burrough of Kodiak Island, and the AFSC space is leased from the Burrough.

Federal fisheries research activities in Kodiak date back to the 1930s. In 1970 the NMFS’ Exploratory Fish and Gear Research Program was transferred to Kodiak from Juneau, Alaska, and the Fishing Technology Laboratory from Ketchikan, Alaska. At that time, NOAA entered into a Use Agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard for two buildings and moorage at the Coast Guard’s Kodiak Base.

Given the pressing needs for expanded research capabilities in western Alaska, Congress provided funding and instructions in 1992 to begin planning for a new research facility to be co-located with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Fishery Industrial Technology Center on Near Island.  Groundbreaking for the new facility, known as the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center, took place in June 1996.  The facility is leased to various public agencies including NOAA, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, National Park Service, and the University of Alaska School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.  The 25,000-square-foot complex includes office space, conference rooms, a research library, an interpretive center, a running seawater laboratory, conventional laboratories, as well as separate living quarters for visiting scientists.

In addition to the main component of the RACE Division’s Shellfish Assessment Program, NMFS offices in the new facility include the Kodiak Office of the Center’s North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program, the Alaska Regional Office Management Division, and the National Marine Mammal Laboratory.

By Russ Nelson.

PICES Annual Meeting

Members of the AFSC’s RACE Division participated in the PICES (North Pacific Marine Science Organization) 7th Annual Meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, on 14-25 October.   Ric Brodeur presented two talks and two posters; the first talk was entitled “Retrospective data analysis in the U.S. GLOBEC Northeast Pacific Program” and the second was entitled “Forage fishes in the Bering Sea: Distribution, species associations, and biomass trends” and included Matt Wilson and Gary Walters as coauthors.  The posters were: “Fronts and Fish: Interannual and regional differences in frontal structure and effects on pollock and their prey” with Miriam Doyle, Jeff Napp, and Matt Wilson  (.pdf, 1.4 MB) and “Evidence for a recent increase in jellyfish in the Bering Sea, with possible links to climate change” with Gary Walters  (.pdf, 844 KB).  He also served as chair of the first meeting of the PICES Micronekton Working Group. Bern Megrey presented two papers “Application of fuzzy logic to forecasting Alaska walleye pollock recruitment” and  (with V. Wespestad)  “On relationships between cannibalism, climate variability, physical transport and recruitment success of Bering Sea walleye pollock.” Jeffrey Napp gave two presentations entitled ”Zooplankton monitoring for the PICES Climate Change and Carrying Capacity (CCCC) Program:  Where do we go from here?" and “Southeast Bering Sea Carrying Capacity (SEBSCC):  Ecosystem Dynamics Research in a Marginal Sea.”  The former presentation was to the PICES Monitoring Task Team (of which Napp  is a member) and the latter was in a PICES special session titled “Climate change and carrying capacity of the North Pacific:  recent findings of GLOBEC and GLOBEC-like programs in the North Pacific.” Pat Livingston of the REFM Division also attended the PICES annual meeting and acted in the following capacities:

Livingston cochaired a workshop on monitoring in the subarctic Pacific as part of the PICES CCCC Program; in the workshop she made presentations on the CCCC program and the International GLOBEC implementation plan; she cochaired the executive committee and implementation panel meetings of the PICES CCCC program; and she presented the annual report of the CCCC program at the PICES Science Board meeting.