Expedition planned to better understand Gulf of Alaska salmon stocks
Seafood Source by Ben Fisher - November 26, 2018
Richard Beamish, a scientist recently retired from Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, is planning an expedition across the Gulf of Alaska to better understand changes in salmon stocks.
2018 salmon season among highest in value
Smaller overall catch earned fishermen nearly $600M
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - November 25, 2018
Alaska’s 2018 commercial salmon harvest, excluding 2016, was the smallest in 34 years, but the seventh most valuable since 1975, earning harvesters $595.6 million.
Senate Majority adds Hoffman, now is 14 strong
Must Read Alaska by Suzanne Downing - November 26, 2018
BETHEL DEMOCRAT JOINS POWERHOUSE CAUCUS
The Alaska Senate Majority today announced its team for the 31st Alaska Legislature, including committee chairmanships.
In addition, the majority has expanded the Senate Finance Committee with two more seats at the table, which means seven members of the 14-member majority will be on the Finance Committee.
Dunleavy announces 4 cabinet officials, including crucial budget director appointment
Anchorage Daily News by James Brooks - November 26, 2018
JUNEAU — Donna Arduin is a little bit jet-lagged, but she’s ready to work.
On Monday, Arduin, president of the financial consulting firm Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics, was one of four officials named by Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy for his new cabinet. Arduin will serve as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Cabinet makeover: DEC, HSS, Admin., OMB
Must Read Alaska by Suzanne Downing - November 26, 2018
NO STATUS QUO IN PICKS TO LEAD STATE DEPARTMENTS
Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy came roaring out of the gate after the Thanksgiving holiday with four new appointments to his cabinet. Three are Alaskans with deep business experience and one is a state budget hawk who just moved to Juneau on Sunday from Michigan to join the Dunleavy Administration.
Climate Change Report: Alaska on "Front Line" for More Coastal and Seafood Industry Disasters
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - November 26, 2018
Talk about a one-two punch. First, on Thanksgiving, the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that greenhouse gases (GHG) had unexpectedly increased since 2012. The next day, a 1,656-page National Climate Assessment (NCA) report was released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The most comprehensive report to date on the effects of climate change, it included the cost -- in hundreds of billions of dollars, globally -- of damage done to world economies, public health, and infrastructure, in big and little climate disasters ahead.
NCA devoted an entire chapter to Alaska and the Bering Sea, an area described as being “on the front lines of climate change” and “among the fastest warming regions on Earth.”
Alaska and the waters surrounding it are also directly in the track of the North Pacific jet stream, which brings atmospheric pollution from China and eastern Asia.
Those areas are the source of the largest increase in greenhouse gases to date -- the average amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record-breaking 405.5 parts per million in 2017, up 146% from pre-industrial (1750) levels.
“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
Much of the airborne CO2 is eventually absorbed by the ocean, causing ocean acidification, the evil twin of global warming. Alaska's largest employer is the seafood industry, which contributes more to the economy than any other industry besides oil and gas.
Ironic or not, Alaska is warming faster than any other state, and since the middle of the 20th century, say the authors of the NCA report, twice as fast as the global average.
“...[The state] faces a myriad of issues associated with a changing climate,” they noted.
“The cost of infrastructure damage from a warming climate is projected to be very large, potentially ranging from $110 to $270 million per year, assuming timely repair and maintenance,” the authors wrote.
Issues include the retreat of Arctic Sea ice triggering changes in fish and wildlife habitat that is critical for subsistence, tourism, commercial and recreational use. Fish are migrating northward, in the case of the still abundant pollock, looking for a cold pool that has disappeared from the Bering Sea in recent years.
A nearly ice-free Arctic, which the authors predict could happen as early as 2046, contributes to increases in ocean acidification through greater ocean–atmosphere interaction, affecting marine mammal habitat and the growth and survival of fish and crab species that are important for both personal and commercial use.
Lack of sea ice also means increased storm surges and coastal flooding and erosion, leading to the loss of shorelines and causing some communities to relocate.
Thawing permafrost damages roads, buildings, bridges, and other important infrastructure, which is costly to repair.
Melting glaciers may affect hydroelectric power generation through changes in river discharge and reservoir capacity. A warming climate will increase the frequency and size of wildfires, with potentially long term changes in habitat for important subsistence species.
“Climate change also brings a wide range of human health threats to Alaskans due to increased injuries, smoke inhalation, damage to vital infrastructure, decreased food and water security, and new infectious diseases,” the report says.
Alaskans are more likely to bear the brunt of this accelerating change in ways different from residents in other parts of the country, because “Climate change exerts indirect effects on human health in Alaska through changes to water, air, and soil and through ecosystem changes affecting disease ecology and food security, especially in rural communities,” according to the report.
“Temperatures have been increasing faster in Arctic Alaska than in the temperate southern part of the state, with the Alaska North Slope warming at 2.6 times the rate of the continental U.S. and with many other areas of Alaska, most notably the west coast, central interior, and Bristol Bay, warming at more than twice the continental U.S. rate,” the report notes.
Since the early 1980s, annual average arctic sea ice extent has decreased from 3.5% to 4.1% per decade. September sea ice extent, which is the annual minimum extent, has decreased between 10.7% and 15.9% per decade.
Sea ice is also important for algal production and growth in marine ecosystems during spring. The ecosystems support grazers, such as copepods and krill, which in turn provide food for fish, birds, and mammals.
Ocean acidification will intensify with continued CO2 emissions. The increased acidity hurts organisms such as corals, crustaceans, crabs, mollusks, and other shelled species.
“Changes in ocean chemistry and increased corrosiveness are exacerbated by sea ice melt, respiration of organic matter, upwelling, and glacial runoff and riverine inputs, thus making the high-latitude North Pacific and the western Arctic Ocean (and especially the continental shelves of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas) particularly vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification,” the authors noted.
“More recent research suggests that corrosive conditions have been expanding deeper into the Arctic Basin over the last several decades,” they wrote.
Ocean acidification affects commercially important species such as Tanner and red king crab and pink salmon. Studies indicate flatfish, such as the northern rock sole, are also sensitive to higher acidity, while walleye pollock have not shown adverse effects on growth or survival.
However, the tiny pteropod, part of plankton that feeds salmon, birds, and whales, are particularly susceptible to OA. The effects on pteropods are seen as an early-warning signal of the impacts of OA because so many and such different marine species rely on them.
The authors also note the 2014-2016 heat wave in the Gulf of Alaska that impacted the Pacific cod biomass profoundly in 2018. The phenomenon resulted in severely reduced fishing, and led the governor of Alaska to ask the Federal Government to declare a fisheries disaster.
“Events such as these are requiring the use of multiple, alternative models to appropriately characterize uncertainty in future population trends and fishery harvests. The need to address uncertainty is especially true for the Eastern Bering Sea pollock fishery, which is one of the largest in the United States. While most scientists agree that walleye pollock populations in the eastern Bering Sea are likely to decrease in a warming climate, these effects can be mitigated to some extent by adopting alternative fish harvest strategies, and economic losses may be partially offset by increased pollock prices,” the authors suggest.
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