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Bering Sea is focus of effort to accelerate data to Alaska fishery managers

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 5:13 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries is creating an integrated approach to studying the Bering Sea that will deliver more timely, actionable data on climate change’s impacts on ocean conditions.

The Alaska Climate Integrated Modeling project is a partnership between NOAA and the University of Washington. Unlike other modeling approaches, scientists are not only looking at how climate change affects the marine environment, but also the people who rely on it.

The goal is to have fishing communities use this data to help them achieve their immediate needs and long-term sustainability goals.

The Bering Sea has some of the most profitable fisheries, including Alaskan pollock and Pacific cod. It is also one of the fastest warming parts of the world.

According to NOAA, fish populations become increasingly vulnerable to marine heat waves and the loss of sea ice. Because of this, NOAA scientists chose the Bering Sea to test for what they hope will be a system that provides decision-makers with powerful projections of ocean and fishery conditions over short and long-term scenarios, and then evaluate how different fishery management strategies might perform under those future conditions.

The simulation models use ocean physics to make predictions at local scales. To evaluate a range of possible future conditions, scientists are evaluating the effectiveness of existing fishery management actions under different climate scenarios.

They will also look at how human fishing fleets and communities can adapt to climate change through climate-informed management. Anne Hollowed, a senior scientist working on the project, said that the simulations are important for the planning for communities who depend on these for commercial businesses and the general public to understand the implications of the global food supply.

The project began in 2015 and is expected to run for another two years.

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