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How Climate Change is Affecting Alaska Fisheries and How Industry and Fisheries Dependent Communities Can Adapt

In recent years a great deal of research has focused on specific oceanographic and marine biological effects of the changing atmospheric and oceanic climate. Results of this research suggest that profound changes are coming to the species that support Alaska’s commercial fisheries, and understandably the industry and the public are concerned. To date, however, few actual impacts have been documented.
This report summarizes and synthesizes the current state of knowledge on effects of long-term climate change on fisheries. It addresses temperature and currents, invasive species, hazardous algal blooms, disease causing pathogens, ocean acidification, and changes to fisheries resource abundance, distribution and behaviors. Since relatively few significant fisheries affects have been recorded in Alaska waters, the report also looks at changes in the Pacific Northwest states and British Columbia, where temperatures are higher and consequences more dramatic. And it looks at effects of transitory climate phenomena in Alaska waters, including El Nino and oceanic regime shift probably related to PDO. These observations and those from the Northwest provide indications of what long-term warming in the North Pacific and Bering Sea will bring to Alaska’s fisheries.

This report also explores adaptive strategies and measures that individuals, communities and the industry can apply to lessen the impact and possibly even benefit from coming changes. These adaptations can be technological, operational and financial.  The intent of this presentation is to promote discussion among stakeholders about planning effective adaptation.