I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Lord, a founding member of AMCC and author of the new science-in-fiction novel entitled ph: A Novel.
pH: A Novel provides a futuristic account of Ocean Acidification through fiction and science. Nancy Lord has produced a unique work that brings ocean acidification to life in a way not many have attempted before. Lord and a few other authors (like Barbara Kingsolver and her book Flight Behavior) have ventured into the genre of science in fiction, as opposed to science fiction. In pH, Lord allows real science to intermingle with fictional characters. Using a bit of humor, Lord is able to take the rather daunting topic of Ocean Acidification and make it into an enjoyable read.
Lord has a Master of Fine Arts and is no foreigner to the field of Ocean Acidification. She has been a Homer, Alaska resident for 44 years, commercial fished for many of those years and was a founding member of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. Her research for this novel included participation on a scientific cruise, attendance at an Ocean Acidification Conference in Monterey Bay, and extensive reading.
Lord had a vision to place her novel in the future, which made for an interesting battle with the fast-developing field of Ocean Acidification. It was almost as if it was a race between the scientists and Lord to see who could find the next piece of the puzzle first.
Even though pH is a science-based book, Lord has made this adventure accessible to all readers. This book is perfect for any reader who is interested in science but still enjoys a well told fictional story. The novel takes place entirely in Alaska, focusing on the Alaskan experience of science and the effects of Ocean Acidification.
The seriousness of Ocean Acidification is acknowledged in Lord’s novel, but she hopes that the main takeaway by readers includes some joy as well as learning. She has said, “The big problem is that the solution is so difficult. The solution is reducing our carbon emissions….we need to be adaptive and resilient.”
To find out more about Nancy Lord and any of her books, please visit her website:
By AMCC Staff
Our team recently traveled to ComFish 2017 in Kodiak. Hannah Heimbuch and Theresa Peterson reflect on opportunities for fishermen to become more engaged in key issues affecting their businesses.
As our communities and fisheries evolve, the work of fishing has developed in conference rooms as much as over water. Intricate management and policy processes—aimed at shaping dynamic and sustainable harvests—are designed to include input from stakeholders. Even so, the demands on deck often supersede a trip to a meeting or writing a letter, and the relatively complex process can serve as a barrier to those already working full time to make their businesses run.
Alaska Marine Conservation Council has maintained a strong focus on stakeholder engagement at multiple levels of policy processes, encouraging fishery dependent community members to engage where and when they can. This was most recently reflected at ComFish 2017 in Kodiak, where AMCC hosted Dock to Conference Room, a panel discussion focusing on opportunities for stakeholder engagement.
Presenters included Theresa Peterson, a North Pacific Fishery Management Council member; Sue Jeffrey, an Alaska Board of Fisheries member; Natasha Hayden of the Native Village of Afognak; and Bruce Schaectler from the Kodiak Seiners Association. These individuals hail from a multitude of management bodies as well as groups representing unique stakeholders in our marine ecosystem. They discussed the diversity of opportunities to be involved in the decisions that shape the resources we rely on, from joining your local gear group or regularly tracking fishery news, to providing public comment on vital decisions or building community momentum around a change you’d like to see in your fishery or waterfront.
They also discussed dynamics of current engagement. Hayden described the value of strong mentors and learning opportunities, as well as a serious need for more young stakeholders at the table. The time to work with and learn from your mentors is now, she said, before the weight of management decisions rest squarely on the next generation.
AMCC had another opportunity to set engagement in motion during ComFish, through a fishermen round table discussion on ocean acidification. Dr. Bob Foy hosted a dynamic two-hour conversation with community members at the Fisheries Science Center. This dialogue dove into the complexity of OA research and impacts, and explored support for multi-faceted ways to tackle essential monitoring as well as the funding and engagement it requires. “If we don’t monitor ocean acidification, we won’t know until it’s too late,” Foy said.
Though OA issues and their potential impact on Alaska’s marine resources become more concerning all the time, funding streams for programs that collect this baseline data are often unstable. AMCC continues to engage with fishing communities on OA issues, recognizing their role in communicating the importance of OA science and the adaptability it can afford sensitive coastal economies.
This conversation demonstrated the depth of interest from fishermen on OA, including how they can be effective in better understanding this issue. Participating in citizen science programs and advocating for research funding are two good places to start.
To stay current on ocean acidification news and happenings in Alaska, join the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network (see “Subscribe to List Serv” at the bottom right hand corner of the home page).
Our team is looking forward to be back in Kodiak for ComFish, the largest commercial fishing trade show in Alaska. AMCC is pleased to host three great community events this year. We look forward to seeing you on the Emerald Isle!
Fish Taco Night
Celebrate our island’s bounty with delicious fish tacos featuring rockfish harvested by local fisherman Darius Kasprzak of Kodiak Jig Seafoods and processed by Pacific Seafood on our working waterfront. The tacos will once again be prepared by the Association of Latin Women in Alaska.
Stakeholder Engagement in Fisheries Policy
Learn how fishermen and marine industry workers can get more involved in fisheries management in this panel discussion. Short talks from the panel participants will be followed by a Q&A discussion with the audience to better examine the ideas raised.
Presenters: Duncan Fields, former North Pacific Fishery Management Council member; Sue Jeffrey, Alaska Board of Fisheries Member; Natasha Hayden for the Native Village of Afognak; and a representative from the Kodiak Seiners Association.
Ocean Acidification and the Seafood Industry
White House Seeks To Eliminate Critical Program
The White House released its preliminary 2018 budget proposal on March 16. As reported by The Washington Post, the Trump administration is proposing massive cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) budget. Included in those cuts is the complete elimination of the Sea Grant program.
Losing Sea Grant would have profound negative impacts on Alaskans. Alaska Sea Grant represents a unique partnership between NOAA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. For more than 46 years, the program has supported healthy coastal resources, strong economies, and vibrant communities in Alaska through research, education, and outreach. What does this mean in terms of on-the-ground action? Here are a few examples of Sea Grant’s work in Alaska:
- FishBiz Program: This program provides financial and business tools for fishermen, ensuring those looking to get into, remain, or sell out of a fishery have the tools to do so effectively.
- Training Alaska’s fishing workforce: Sea Grant provides Alaskan fishermen with education and training on essential topics such as vessel safety and maintenance, fuel efficiency, refrigeration, direct marketing, and permitting. It has also hosted the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit, which has provided critical training to more than 350 young fishermen.
- Mariculture investment: Sea Grant has invested more than $2.5 million in research and outreach in support of Alaska’s growing mariculture industry.
- Practical Research: Sea Grant leads research that addresses coastal community priorities, including the “Graying of the Fleet” project that is working to identify and find solutions to barriers to entry for the next generation of fishermen.
NOAA’s budget will ultimately be decided by a congressional budget resolution. Congress typically makes changes to the president’s proposal, so now is the time to let your representatives know how important Sea Grant is to Alaskans. Senators Sullivan and Murkowski have gone on record opposing the cuts to NOAA’s budget, but it’s still critical that they hear from you about maintaining federal funding for Sea Grant.
Please call your Congressional representative. Phone calls carry more weight with legislators than emails. Listed below is the contact info for each office, along with talking points to guide your call.
- I’m calling today to let [elected official] know that I oppose the president’s proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), specifically the elimination of the Sea Grant program.
- Sea Grant directly contributes to job creation and economic development, the core functions of the Department of Commerce. In Alaska, Sea Grant offers valuable technical assistance to our seafood industry, which employees 60,000 Americans from across the country.
- Federal funding of Sea Grant goes a long way. Each dollar Sea Grant receives in federal funds is multiplied threefold through strategic partnerships with the University of Alaska and other grant funders.
- I personally value [name Sea Grant program or service that is important to you, such as the Young Fishermen’s Summit, the Graying of the Fleet research project, food preservation workshops, educational materials and trainings, etc.]. Click here for more information about Sea Grant’s workshops, trainings and programs.
- Again, I urge [elected official] to maintain funding for Sea Grant in NOAA’s 2018 budget. Thank you for your time.
Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski
Contact: Ephraim Froehlich
Office of Senator Dan Sullivan
Contact: Erik Elam
Office of Representative Don Young
Contact: Mike DeFilippis
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.
I want to tell you about Reise and Harmony Wayner. This brother and sister grew up near the end of the Aleutian chain in Unalaska. Their backyard was a landscape of emerald green hills, streams filled with wild salmon, and a rich ocean filled with a diversity of marine life.
Taught by their parents, Rhonda and Paul, this generation of Wayners continues the tradition of fishing at their family’s setnet site in Bristol Bay every summer. They have developed a strong sense of respect for the natural resources that support their family and other families like theirs.
Reise, Harmony, and other young fishermen and subsistence leaders from Sitka to Shaktoolik are shaping the future of coastal communities in Alaska. They understand that healthy fisheries are vital to the future of Alaska. And they are concerned about what the alarming pace of environmental change, unsettling national politics, and Alaska’s ailing economy will mean for the future.
Your support is needed now more than ever by Alaska’s fishing communities and families. Alaska Marine Conservation Council helps ensure the protection of Alaska’s marine resources for this and future generations. Please consider making a gift today.
Thanks to you, here’s a sampling of what we have accomplished in 2016:
- Grown the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and expanded its impact to help nurture the next generation of coastal community leaders;
- Catalyzed movement towards practical and informed solutions to keep fishing opportunities in our coastal communities;
- Fostered smart solutions to bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea that consider the needs of local communities and long-term conservation;
- Built a national coalition of small-scale fishermen ready to defend the Magnuson-Stevens Act, our nation’s “fish bill;”
- Advanced an ecosystem-based approach to management in the North Pacific—one that addresses fishing impacts, supports inclusive decision-making and considers the effects of climate change;
- Supported research, action, and engagement on the impacts of ocean acidification; and
- Connected more than 600 Alaska seafood consumers with community fishermen through Catch of the Season, our thriving community supported fishery.
None of us know how the new administration’s actions and policies will impact our marine ecosystems. But one thing is certain. We must remain vigilant.
With your support, AMCC will—as we have for over 20 years—continue to advocate on critical issues today, tomorrow and for the next 20 years. We are in this for the long haul.
We have some ambitious goals for 2017:
- Remain a steadfast and effective voice for regional and national fisheries policy that prioritizes conservation, communities, and local economies while considering the larger ecosystem and long-term changes;
- Carry out cutting-edge social science research to generate knowledge and smart solutions to the “graying of the fleet” and support the well-being of coastal communities;
- Bring our ocean acidification educational kiosk to new communities in southeast Alaska and defend important investments in ocean acidification research; and
- Harness the power of the local foods movement and social enterprise to expand the number of fishermen and consumers participating in AMCC’s community supported fishery.
Please stand with AMCC by making a gift now. It matters more than ever to Alaskans like Reise and Harmony Wayner and families in communities like theirs.
Thank you and happy holidays to you and yours.
By Hannah Heimbuch
Unless chemistry is your chosen language, ocean acidification can be a little unwieldy.
It is impressively global and microscopic, a chemical shift in seawater driven by diverse factors, including the absorption of as much as half of our atmosphere’s carbon dioxide. Its impacts and implications are not fully understood, and research and technology in this arena are relatively new. After all, it has been 55 million years since Earth experienced a major acidification event, and it’s happening 10 times faster this time around. This shift is even more pronounced in cold northern latitudes, like the waters around Alaska.
In 2015, Alaska Marine Conservation Council and Cook Inletkeeper teamed up to develop a touchscreen ocean acidification kiosk, an educational tool that features video testimonials from fishermen, scientists, and community leaders all speaking about this complex issue. After its launch in Homer, and a long summer season spent in Kodiak, the kiosk made a Gulf of Alaska leap this last month and landed in Sitka. It’s stationed at the harbormaster’s office, slated to stay through the winter.
AMCC staffers Hannah and Jonalyn arrived in Sitka in time for Whalefest, where they shared the kiosk with festivalgoers before its harbor-side installation. Ocean acidity is one of countless critical elements that influence a marine habitat. This aspect of the seawater climate impacts critters from pteropods to the very whales being celebrated in Sitka during Whalefest week. Pteropods in particular (an essential food for many birds, fish and marine mammals) are sensitive to changes in acidity. They need calcium-based building blocks to construct their shells, much like crabs, corals, and clams. In seawater with higher acidity, those calcium building blocks start to break down, and there’s less available to those that need them to thrive.
There are still a lot of unknowns surrounding ocean acidification (OA) and how it will affect our marine ecosystem. AMCC is working to connect coastal communities to quality information and opportunities to stay informed. Part of our goal in Sitka is to link people up with the growing Alaska Ocean Acidification Network. Coordinated by the Alaska Ocean Observing System, this new collaboration aims to bring diverse stakeholders together around this complex issue, broadening the understanding of ocean acidification trends in Alaska, and the potential for adaptation and mitigation. Collaborators include scientists, aquaculture and fishing industries, coastal communities, decision makers and the general public.
The Network serves as a connector, communicator and resource on ocean acidification, working to share information and research practices among those studying this evolving issue, and those impacted by it.
As fishermen we know that we are a part of and dependent on a profoundly complex and dynamic natural system. We also know that when that system experiences significant change, we can expect to see that change ripple through the ecological framework of our ocean world. This is the lens through which many fishermen see ocean acidification. This is why we know it’s time to pay close attention to what comes next.
Because of this lens, we have big questions. How will this fundamental change in chemistry affect the local coastline and creatures? Will there be shifts in food web dynamics that alter marine populations and the industries that harvest them? These are detailed issues, but they address the big stuff: food, work, and environment. And we all have a stake in the answers.
While in Sitka, AMCC was able to host a roundtable with fishermen and local leaders, discussing ecosystem-based fisheries management and what it currently and could look like to let an ecosystem-wide lens inform our resource management choices.
With an ecosystem-minded approach to studying and managing our natural resources, we take into account the fact that we are dependent on not one solitary element of a natural habitat, but that habitat in its entirety. That includes the marine mammals off our coastline, the salmon charging upstream, the seasonally blooming plankton, and the chemical composition of their ever-shifting environments.
By participating in and creating opportunities for an active dialogue on issues that impact our marine environment, AMCC will continue to be a connector between diverse stakeholders and important resources.
Feeling inspired to take action? Subscribe to the Ocean Acidification Network listserv to receive information about this issue and upcoming opportunities to learn more. And stay tuned in Sitka for more developments around the ocean acidification kiosk this winter, including development of new videos, naming the kiosk, and more.
Congratulations and thank you to the Sitka Sound Science Center and Whalefest Coordinator extraordinaire Mia Kuartei for an excellent job on this year’s festival. And another thank you to Lauren Bell and Dane McFadden for their help coordinating the kiosk’s installation, and building a sturdy stand for it to live on. AMCC can’t wait to head back to Sitka!
Hannah Heimbuch is AMCC’s Homer-based Community Fisheries Organizer. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This year’s Pacific Marine Expo will take place November 17–19 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. As the largest commercial marine trade show on the West Coast, more than 450 exhibitors come together to engage and network with buyers in their industry. With three full days of exhibits, education sessions, events and happy hours, this event is a must if you own a commercial fishing business.
Find AMCC in the Alaska Aisle- Booth #544
While you’re at the Expo, stop by AMCC’s booth in the Alaska Aisle #544. Renew your membership with our Expo special and get a Salmon Sisters halibut tee or Kleen Kanteen cup! Staff including our Executive Director will be there chatting about the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, the impacts of ocean acidification on Alaska’s fisheries and more.
Young Fishermen’s Happy Hour, Friday Nov. 18th at 5pm
For the full show schedule, exhibitor list and more, visit: http://www.pacificmarineexpo.com/
Congress will soon undertake important funding decisions for Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring (FOARAM). Right now, it is critical that they hear from you!
Ocean acidification (OA) is caused by the increased uptake of carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the earth’s atmosphere. Acidification makes it harder for shell-forming species such as oysters, clams, crabs and some tiny zooplankton to form their shells. It also fundamentally alters many other natural processes (e.g. growth, reproduction, etc.) necessary for healthy marine ecosystems and the people who depend on them. Sufficient funding is needed to understand this global problem and its impacts here in Alaska. The administration has recommended $30 million be included in the new NOAA budget for ocean acidification research. This increased funding will improve experimental research, add more observing stations to monitor acidification and study effects on valuable marine species so that we can be better prepared for the effects of ocean acidification in Alaska. Request this of our congressional delegation today by filling out the form below.
Sign the Letter by February 12th to Ask Congress to Increase Funding for Essential Ocean Acidification Research
To the Alaska Congressional Delegation:
We are writing to urge you to support the President’s FY17 NOAA ocean acidification research funding amount of [$30 million]. Ocean acidification is changing the very chemical nature of our oceans, harming a multitude of important species today and threatening more in the future. Not only are Alaskan waters particularly susceptible to changes in ocean chemistry, but fishermen, shellfish farmers, and coastal communities across the state depend on productive coastal areas for their jobs, cultural traditions, food security and recreation.
These communities and essential systems will suffer if we don’t respond to the challenge of ocean acidification. Federal research dollars can help avert impacts by deepening our scientific understanding of the problem, enabling local businesses to remain productive through awareness and adaptation, and active planning on next steps, both locally and nationally.
This line item will enable our federal and state scientists to inform policymakers’ response to this challenge and allow them to work with local communities and sectors that will be affected. Increased funding for Integrated Ocean Acidification in the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research within NOAA will provide desperately needed resources and make sure we address one of the most critical threats to coastal communities and oceans today.
Thank you for your time and consideration of our request.
By Hannah Heimbuch, Community Fisheries Organizer
At the end of February, while Homer basked in 40-degree weather, I ventured out for a visit to a very wintery New England. In Gloucester I was able to spend three days with members of the Fish Locally Collaborative, a diverse group of marine conservationists that work to create a healthy ocean through community based fisheries and other important efforts.
This valuable face-to-face meeting allowed me to gain a much deeper understanding of the unique members and joint capacity of the FLC. I have a broader understanding of the social, environmental and economic movements taking shape within the marine conservation world, and how our work in Alaska informs and is informed by those efforts.
I was particularly excited to hear about the ways other organizations have translated positive energy and good ideas into meaningful actions for healthy marine ecosystems, and marine based coastal economies. I met leaders of the Slow Fish movement, individuals doing important research into community-based fisheries models, sustainable seafood marketers building direct relationships between chefs and fishermen, and many others. The diverse projects and programs being run by the independent members of this collaborative reflect a worldwide community of people working hard for sustainably managed fisheries and strong fishing communities.
After several days of conversation with these inspiring people, I ventured up to Portland, Maine for visits with our marine conservation colleagues in the north. An FLC member from Penobscot East Resource Center let me hitch a ride with him up from Gloucester, and gave me the rundown on Maine lobster fishery management. The next day I met with Susie Arnold from the Island Institute to talk about Ocean Acidification awareness and research. (Click here to see an excellent video on ocean acidification that AMCC collaborated with the Institute to create a few years ago.)
I met Lucy Van Hook from the Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association to talk community fisheries. Hugh Cowperthwaite from Coastal Enterprises Inc. took a chilly walk with me through some of Portland’s small, thriving fish markets as well as the Portland Fish Exchange. The PFE is a seafood auction warehouse — one of only a handful on the eastern seaboard — that handles nearly 100 percent of Maine’s finfish. I wrapped this incredible visit up with a conversation with Alexa Dayton from Gulf of Maine Research Institute. I learned about the Marine Resource Education Program’s work to offer expert training to marine industry workers on fisheries management and science, further empowering fishermen to weigh in on the decisions and research that impacts their coastal ecosystems and economies. Before leaving Alexa showed me around the gear lab at GMRI, where engineers work closely with fishermen to improve their gear and practices for sustainable fishing.
I flew out of Boston with much food for thought and landed in the other Portland. While in Oregon, before making my way home to Alaska, I headed to the Pacific Coast to participate in the Fisherpoets Gathering in Astoria. A whole event just for fisherpeople who write? Sounds like the place for me. To be sure, I found my people on the waterfront that weekend. One of the first people I saw walking down the sidewalk in downtown Astoria was AMCC member and fisherpoet, Steven Schoonmaker. I visited an old wooden seiner, the owners of which are Kodiak fishermen that have long participated in the event (a photo of me next to the seiner is pictured right). I read some of my own work, and listened to funny, beautiful and profound stories from many others — including AMCC Board Member, Emilie Springer. Brad Warren from Global Ocean Health, in addition to sharing some fantastic music at the evening events, gave an excellent talk on ocean acidification at the Maritime Museum. I was also able to see the new film The Breach, an incredible look at salmon throughout human history. This event is an excellent showcase of the deep and complex connections that coastal communities have to our oceans and the traditions and work that take place on and alongside them. It comes out in our professional work, in the skills we pass down to our children, and in the art we create to celebrate it.
What an incredible two weeks, packed with information and introductions that will serve to enrich my work in marine conservation for years to come.