April 21, 2015
Scientists Convene For Gulf of Alaska Project Meeting
Tags: Gulf of Alaska Project
Scientists involved in the Gulf of Alaska Integrated Ecosystem Research Program convened April 7-10 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ International Arctic Research Center for their 6th annual Principal Investigators meeting. The $17.6 million project involves more than 50 scientists from 11 different institutions and will be completed at the end of this year. This meeting provided an opportunity for sharing research findings among project participants. These included scientists with expertise in a wide variety of disciplines, from physical and biological oceanography, to fisheries and seabird biology. The meeting’s goal was to discuss what has been learned from all of these disciplines and begin to synthesize the results. The results will be published in a peer-reviewed series of special issues in Deep Sea Research II.
When asked about the meeting’s significance, NPRB Senior Program Manager, Danielle Dickson, highlighted that, “This was an important opportunity for the scientists working on the project to integrate their individual results with those of others to achieve a better understanding of how the ecosystem functions. Now that each scientist understands the shape of his or her own piece of the jigsaw puzzle, we can begin assembling the puzzle to see the big picture.”
NPRB funded the Gulf of Alaska Project to better understand how five species of commercially and ecologically important groundfish—namely sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), Pacific ocean perch (Sebastes alutus), Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus), and arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias)—survive during their first year of life in the Gulf of Alaska. The project aimed to determine how the number of adult fish available to fisheries is related to the proportion of fish that survive their first year. Answers to this broad ecological question are beginning to emerge and, as these scientists integrate their data, they are learning about how the ecosystem behaves as a whole, and how these five species of groundfish respond. This information will allow fisheries managers to: 1) better anticipate how commercial fish stocks may respond to changes in the environment; and 2) make informed decisions to ensure that Alaska’s fisheries remain robust and sustainable.