A/Prof Melissa Good1, Dr Lauren Divine2, Mr Aaron Poe3
1University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Sea Grant, Unalaska, United States, 2Ecosystem Conservation Office of the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, St Paul Island, United States, 3Aleutian Bering Sea Islands LCC, Anchorage, United States
Alaska is experiencing among the most severe impacts of coastal environmental change observed in the United States. Having warmed an average of 1.5°C over the last 60 years, more than twice as fast as the continental U.S., Alaska is often referred to as the “canary in the coal mine” for environmental and ecosystem change impacts. Alaska’s coasts also support many of the world’s most economically important fisheries with over 50% of U.S. seafood production coming from the Bering Sea alone. Although Alaska leads international seafood production with over 8,000 registered commercial fishing vessels, structured use of these fleets to document changing marine species ranges and distributions and other biological and ecological anomalies is limited. As of yet, Alaska does not have a system or network in place for communities and/or resource user groups to document changes that they are seeing in real time. Efforts have been put forward to develop what we are calling a “Skipper Science” app that will provide the electronic platform necessary for documenting marine species shifts, anomalous environmental conditions, and the ability to participate in structured monitoring programs. Our goal is to develop an observation network for communities and fisheries groups to help track species range shifts in a manner that brings together Alaskan users with scientists and resource managers, to provide a better picture of species distributions now and how these will change in the near future.
Melissa Good is the is the University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program Agent for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. Ms. Good’s expertise lie with fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, marine mammal response, invasive species monitoring, and community outreach and extension.