AK - Partners Provide Critical Support in Unprecedented Year for Alaska Research and Fisheries Management
For more than two decades, Alaska has led the way in using ecosystem information to inform resource management decisions. In 2020, contributions from research partners and local communities together with NOAA scientists helped fill some data gaps.
Each year, NOAA Fisheries scientists compile information from a variety of sources to produce and update annual indicators of ecosystem status in the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands. Data and information are provided by federal, state, academic, non-government organizations, private companies, and local community partners across Alaska. Collected data complement NOAA Fisheries’ own research.
However, in 2020 several key NOAA research surveys were cancelled. Collaboration, increased engagement by community and research partners, and creative thinking on the part of some NOAA scientists helped fill critical information gaps. As a result, the annual Ecosystem Status Reports still could be produced.
“Around 143 individuals contributed to the three Ecosystem Status Reports we produced this year,” said Elizabeth Sidden, editor of the Eastern Bering Sea Ecosystem Status Report and a scientist at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. “The success of this continuing effort to provide valuable ecosystem context to better understand factors contributing to fish stock fluctuations hinges on these partnerships. We couldn’t do this without the help of fellow researchers and local communities along with our staff contributions.”
One example of the kind of information provided by partners this year in all regions is seabird data. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. FWS) was unable to conduct field research due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Coastal community members, tribal governments, and state and university partners provided information on seabird dynamics for the Bering Sea region.