Alaska Sea Grant 2000–2001 Project Directory

Research and information on Alaska coastal and marine issues

salmon

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program conducts marine and coastal research, public education, and marine industry advisory services to help Alaskans wisely use and conserve the state's ocean resources. Funding comes from the state and federal government, and from industry.

From 2000 to 2001, Alaska Sea Grant is undertaking 8 marine research projects, supporting 8 graduate students at the University of Alaska, and carrying out a statewide public education and industry advisory program.

Research projects described here address important regional issues identified by Alaska Sea Grant through consultation with marine user groups, members of the seafood industry, and officials in state and federal government agencies. Each project was subjected to mail review by peers outside Alaska, and was then considered by an advisory panel in Seattle.

To see a list of publications resulting from past Alaska Sea Grant research and scientific meetings, take a look at our research catalog.


Contents

Impacts on Salmon

Wiser Utilization of Fisheries

Marine Environmental Issues

Diversification of Economy

Education and Training

Outreach


Impacts on Salmon

Long Term Variability in Alaska Sockeye Salmon, Part 2: Effects of Past Warm Climate on Salmon Abundance [R/31-05]

To understand the future, we must look to the past. That's the philosophy behind this two-year research project that examines historical sockeye salmon returns to four lakes in Alaska. The project uses lake sediment core samples to reconstruct the climate and environment going back 2,000 years. Researchers also will measure the amount of marine nitrogen, a key component of decaying salmon, in sediment layers to estimate past salmon run abundance. From this study, researchers hope to understand how changes in climate, temperature, and environmental conditions influence salmon abundance. Armed with knowledge of how such factors affect past salmon abundance, fisheries managers may be better able to predict future salmon abundance when similar environmental conditions exist.

Conserving Salmon Biodiversity: Outbreeding Depression in Pink Salmon—Completion [R/31-06]

Growing evidence suggests that breeding between genetically distinct populations of salmon, including cultured and wild salmon, may reduce the genetic fitness and productivity of wild salmon. Scientists call this "outbreeding depression." In this three-year project, researchers will compare survival rates of pink salmon from two genetically distinct parent populations from different regions. Knowledge of how outbreeding depression occurs in salmon can provide scientists and fishery managers with much better insight into whether and how salmon stocks may lose genetic fitness and consequently decrease production through interbreeding. Researchers also hope to glean new information about the genetic nature of successful wild populations. This knowledge becomes increasingly important as the natural range of salmon shrinks as a result of natural and human influences.

Setting Escapement Goals to Account for Climatic Fluctuations and Uncertainty [R/31-07]

Predicting salmon returns has always been an inexact science. Salmon runs fluctuate, depending on many factors including water temperature, predation, and prey availability. During times of rapidly shifting climate conditions, accurate predictions of the size of salmon runs become even more difficult. This two-year research effort will model environmental changes and salmon management practices to develop more accurate methods for setting salmon escapement goals that account for environment changes and management uncertainty. The purpose of the study is to ensure that salmon runs remain healthy even as environmental conditions fluctuate.

Managing Salmon Fisheries for Quality [R/51-01]

As salmon begin their annual migration to their spawning grounds, they channel their resources into producing eggs and sperm for reproduction when they finally reach their destination. The closer salmon are to their spawning grounds the less marketable and palatable salmon become. This two-year effort examines the characteristics of salmon as they migrate from the open ocean to spawning grounds and identifies the point at which salmon are no longer acceptable for processing. The goal of this study is to assist fishery managers as they consider salmon quality in the opening and closing of commercial fisheries. [Funding approved in 1998-1999 Implementation Plan.]

Maintaining Salmon Quality Aboard Fishing Vessels and On Shore [R/51-02]

Ensuring that top quality salmon reach the marketplace begins with fishermen. For years fishermen have used refrigerated seawater pumped into the fish holds to keep fish fresh until they are delivered to the processor. In this two-year project, researchers will attempt to improve on this basic approach. They'll test the feasibility of super-chilling seawater, controlling pH, as well as slime removal and filtration systems to reduce bacteria. Antibacterials such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide, and ozone also will be added to refrigerated seawater to test their effectiveness at controlling bacteria. During the final stage of the project, the best combination of controls will be tested under real fishing conditions.

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Wiser Utilization of Fisheries

Precision of Prohibited Species Bycatch Estimates for Pooled and Individual Bycatch Quotas [R/33-01]

Fishery managers are always on the lookout for tools and incentives for fishermen to reduce their catch of unwanted fish, called bycatch, in Alaska's groundfish fisheries. Fisheries are closed when bycatch quotas are met, even if the closure results in an under-harvest of the target species. As the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which regulates groundfish harvests in federal waters, adopts increasingly focused management measures such as Time-Area Closures, Community Development Quotas, Fishery Cooperatives, and Individual Fishing Quotas, it becomes increasingly important to precisely monitor and estimate bycatch. Individual Bycatch Quotas (IBQs) are a management measure that would make fishermen individually accountable for their bycatch, and allow "clean" fishermen to continue harvesting even as others are shut down. However, concerns have been raised over the accuracy of bycatch estimates at the individual vessel or haul level. This two-year project seeks to identify the tradeoff between this fine-scale management tool and confidence in bycatch estimates. It is expected that this research will provide results that can help fishery managers identify practical limits to IBQs and other fine-scale management tools.

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Marine Environmental Issues

Has Local Depletion of Walleye Pollock Occurred in Steller Sea Lion Critical Habitat? [R/101-01]

There's concern that commercial fishing for walleye pollock in the Bering Sea could be hampering the recovery of the endangered Steller sea lion. Specifically, biologists wonder if commercial fishing is causing localized depletions of pollock at times critical to the health and survival of sea lions. However, there's been no published analysis of fishery data or survey data to suggest that such local depletions occur. Over the next two years, researchers will standardize fishery data from 1992 to 2000. Local depletion models will be applied to the data on large and small scales to study harvests near Steller sea lion rookeries and haulouts. The results of the study should provide fishery managers with better information on the impacts of fishing time and place on Steller sea lions which can be used to improve fishery management in concert with sea lion recovery.

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Diversification of Economy

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: Characterization of Saxitoxin Synthetic Genes [R/95-02]

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) is a major threat to human health in Alaska. PSP-tainted shellfish harvested in the wild make several people sick each year and occasionally cause death. In this continuing project researchers have developed the protocols and techniques needed to identify, clone, and characterize the precise bacterial genes that produce PSP saxitoxin. Researchers are now at work characterizing these genes so that they may be cloned, and distributed to laboratories around the world that are engaged in the study of PSP events. Researchers also will use the cloned saxitoxin genes to further understand saxitoxin production in natural ecosystems, identify toxic forms of plankton, and to understand how bacteria and dinoflagellates trigger PSP events.

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Education and Training

Sea Grant Traineeships [E/142-01]

Graduate research and training are a special asset of a university-based research program. Since 1985, Alaska Sea Grant has provided stipends to more than 70 graduate students in direct support of Alaska Sea Grant research.

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Outreach

Public Information Services [A/161-01]

Effectively communicating science and other useful information to industry, policy makers, conservationists, resource managers, educators, and the general public is a crucial function of Alaska Sea Grant. The program carries out this mission by sponsoring and organizing conferences, workshops, and symposia that bring scientists together for professional exchanges of ideas and information; through production and distribution of educational books, posters, and videos; and through community-based marine education projects. The program also communicates useful information to people through the World Wide Web, and through local, state, and national media via news releases, magazine articles, and an internationally broadcast weekly radio news service.

Marine Advisory Program [A/151-01]

In a state as big as Alaska, it's critical that people have quick and easy access to knowledge, technology, and information concerning the state's marine resources. Agents and specialists of the Marine Advisory Program (MAP) live and work in the communities they serve, linking Alaska Sea Grant and the University of Alaska to its constituents. While the major MAP focus is on the state's commercial fishing industry, agents and specialists also work with sport fish charter operators, shellfish farmers, Native groups, school teachers, tourists, naturalists, and others with an interest in coastal and marine resources. Marine advisory agents pursue programs in the areas of fisheries, seafood product technology, quality and development, shellfish aquaculture, marine mammals, marine conservation, marine safety, business management, seafood marketing, coastal recreation, and media technology. MAP offices are located in Anchorage, Bethel, Dillingham, Homer, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Petersburg, and Sitka. To learn more about the Marine Advisory Program, visit the MAP Web site.

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