Alaska Sea Grant in the News

Lowell Wakefield fisheries symposium to focus on ecosystem

Date: September 15, 1998
Contact: Brenda Baxter, symposium coordinator, 907-474-6701

FAIRBANKS, Alaska--For two straight years, returns of sockeye salmon to Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim River region have been far below official predictions.

The declines have come as a shock to fishermen and policy makers, but not to some scientists. For several years, researchers have warned of an impending decline in the abundance of salmon. Their studies of year-to-year and long-term changes in the North Pacific ecosystem suggest salmon declines are the result of ocean cycles, El Nino and global warming.

"It was bound to happen," says Milo Adkison, an assistant professor of fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. "You get large year-to-year variations and you also get shifts in salmon productivity that can run for a couple of decades. Salmon productivity itself is connected to conditions in the ocean that operate on similar time scales."

Managing fish stocks amid such changing environmental conditions is the latest challenge facing fisheries biologists. This and other marine resource issues will be the subject of a major international symposium in Anchorage September 30 through October 3. Called Ecosystem Considerations in Fisheries Management, the meeting is the latest in the Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposia series, sponsored by the University of Alaska Sea Grant Program.

Adkison is one of dozens of scientists from the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, and elsewhere who will present research findings at the meeting. Topics include physical and environmental effects, species interactions, concepts and tools for management, human interactions and whole ecosystem approaches in fisheries management, among others. The symposium also will explore ways to advance fishery management beyond the single-species model now used by most state and federal fisheries managers.

The ecosystem symposium will be held jointly with the 1998 annual meetings of the American Fisheries Society's Western Division, the Alaska Chapter, and the North Pacific International Chapter.

An opening plenary session for participants of both meetings is scheduled for the morning of September 30. Speakers at this session include:

Opening Remarks

Cindy Hartmann, president-elect
American Fisheries Society, Alaska Chapter

Bob Bilby, president-elect
American Fisheries Society, Western Division

Welcome and Introduction
Ron Dearborn, Director
Alaska Sea Grant College Program

Sea Grant/AFS interactions
Carlos Fetterolf, member
National Sea Grant Review Panel and former AFS president

Alaska Lt. Governor Fran Ulmer

Terry D. Garcia, Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Dr. Stuart Pimm, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Tennessee

Dr. Richard Beamish, Pacific Biological Station
Department of Fish and Oceans

Larry Merculief, Environmental Programs Director
Alaska Inter-Tribal Council

William Seitz, Director
Alaska Biological Science Center

Topics covered in the AFS sessions include:

o Mass marking of hatchery stocks
o Computer modeling of salmon populations
o Environmental indicators of habitat quality
o Lake and stream fertilization
o Adaptive management
o Essential fish habitat
o Oil spill effects on pink salmon in Prince William Sound

Much more information about the symposium, including the program and registration information, is available online at on "Meetings."

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program is a marine research, education and outreach service headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. It is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the state of Alaska and private industry.

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