By Hannah Heimbuch
Ocean acidification (OA) is a growing field of study across the globe, one that seafood producers and their communities continue to keep a close eye on. AMCC partners with groups around the state to promote this important dialogue throughout Alaska’s coastal communities.
Fishermen and scientists connect in Sitka
Most recently, that work took us to Sitka for a roundtable discussion between fishermen, community members, and OA researchers, supported by the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. Twenty-five Sitka residents joined us for this Q&A session with a diverse team of scientists, led by oceanographer Jessica Cross of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Questions from the group focused on the impact of OA on food web dynamics and commercially important species. Scientists highlighted the long-term nature of their work, including the need for sustained monitoring to create a healthy baseline of OA data. This baseline helps us better understand the changes taking place, how those changes might impact the ecosystems we rely on, and how we might respond or adapt to them.
OA data collection and monitoring is a critical component to adaptive, ecosystem-based fisheries management. Understanding how ocean conditions are changing is an important first step towards risk assessment and, ultimately, building a path forward to adapt to changing conditions. Because the waters of the North Pacific are so large, and because the need for data is so great, stakeholder participation and coordination between stakeholders and management agencies is essential.
The Sitka discussion highlighted fisherman and community interest in participating in this process, with a focus on opportunities to meaningfully contribute to data collection. It also highlighted interest from the scientists in pursuing research that helps fishing communities and their stakeholders make strong decisions for their futures. A continuing dialogue between the research field and these communities is an important piece of sustaining the livelihoods and diverse species dependent on a thriving marine ecosystem.
State of the Science workshop draws OA experts from Alaska and beyond
AMCC began promoting this meeting format on the heels of a successful state of the science workshop, coordinated by the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network. This workshop highlighted interest in inspiring a more robust dialogue between OA experts and seafood stakeholders, among other strong initiatives taking place around the state. Additional community Q&A sessions will take place this spring. Follow AMCC on Facebook to stay in the loop.
Regional and nearshore monitoring underway in Southeast
In Southeast Alaska, residents can keep tabs on a variety of projects collecting vital information close to home. This region of the state is unique in the interesting array of OA monitoring efforts being led by Sitka Sound Science Center, the Sitka Tribe and the Alaska Marine Highway. In addition, the Sitka harbor master’s office is currently home to AMCC’s ocean acidification kiosk. This touchscreen device offers a unique learning experience, sharing information about OA and testimonials from stakeholders around the state.
Join the Alaska OA Network and stay informed
New monitoring projects and opportunities to weigh in on this important issue are growing every day. To keep up-to-date on OA news in Alaska and how to participate, join the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network. Another great opportunity to engage in ecosystem observations is the Local Environmental Observer Network, a Northern tribal collective that offers members an opportunity to share observations about local environmental events.
Hannah Heimbuch is AMCC’s Homer-based Community Fisheries Organizer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.