Alaska Sea Grant Blog
A new report from a team of Alaska researchers tackles a two-pronged challenge for the 49th state—an aging fishing fleet and rural communities increasingly left out of a multibillion dollar annual harvest and a way of life that has sustained them for generations.
Twenty-two mid-level seafood managers took part in career-building training offered by Alaska Sea Grant this fall. The Alaska Seafood Leadership Institute prepares up-and-coming industry leaders take their careers to the next level, exposing them to detailed information about all aspects of the seafood processing industry from marketing to human resources.
When Amanda Blackburn’s sixth-grade class went on a whale-watching cruise, she was enthralled. It was her first time out on the ocean and she loved being surrounded by the water and the abundant marine life. “For as long as I can remember I have been interested in nature, and as a kid spent large amounts of time running around poking stuff with a stick,” the oceanography master’s student says with a quiet smile.
As investigators hunt for clues, tests show biotoxins in stomach contents and intestines of four walruses.
Quentin Fong, Alaska Sea Grant’s seafood marketing specialist, assisted federal efforts to crack down on seafood fraud. Scientists are developing a new method for matching protein to particular fish to prevent mislabeling, a problem that affects millions of consumers.
Inventions and new research in seafood technology are the subject of an upcoming conference at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska, near Anchorage.
Alaska Sea Grant’s latest annual report is now available. The report captures many of the highlights of our work over the past year in research, education and outreach to benefit the people, economies and ecosystems of coastal Alaska.
An underwater robot with a custom-built arm may become a useful tool in seaweed farming, an emerging industry in Alaska. Alaska Sea Grant’s Gary Freitag designed and modified the seaweed-plucking arm to help our state’s aquaculture industry expand its reach.
Networking, skill-building and learning from veteran fishermen, legislators, government officials, direct marketers, and seafood industry leaders. That’s what the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit is all about. This year the summit will be held in Anchorage on December 6–8 at the Dena’ina Center. Read more about the summit and hear from past participants in the November issue of Pacific Fishing.
Severe storms, loss of sea ice, crumbling shoreline. These are just a few of the impacts Alaska is experiencing as the result of climate change. Alaska’s governor and Lt. governor are preparing to release a new climate change strategy for the state. One of our fellows has been working to develop it from the halls of state government in Juneau.
Our Nome-based Marine Advisory agent Gay Sheffield stopped by the studios of KNOM-FM recently to discuss the federal government’s decision not to grant protections to the Pacific walrus under the Endangered Species Act. “Listing the walrus isn’t going to bring the sea ice back,” she said. Listen to the full interview here.
Commercial fishermen, an Alaska state trooper and a ferry boat captain were among those trained as marine safety instructors last month. Training saves lives—since the 1980s the commercial fishing industry has seen a 76% decrease in deaths.
As the Pacific Ocean acidifies, oyster farms off California, Washington, and British Columbia have struggled to get larvae to grow into seed. Though scientists are not quite sure why, the water off Southeast Alaska hasn’t seen the same deleterious effects. Now, entrepreneurs and investors are eyeing the state, looking to turn a profit off the short-lived gains of climate change. Hakai Magazine has the story.
The last day of a research vessel cruise may involve the hardest work, but everyone on board has the same goal—dismantle the gear, pack it up, offload by the ton, stow equipment and get it ready for shipment, and then celebrate the accomplishments.
After the team works their way through the stations, lowering and raising the CTD overboard, they take a break to walk on an iceberg calved from a glacier in Prince William Sound.
On a September run, the Tiglax zigzags from station to station and back again in the Gulf of Alaska. Researchers sample water with standard tools and test a new industrial-size collecting apparatus.
On the open ocean in the Gulf of Alaska, a scientist’s assistant bottles up water samples while sleep-deprived.
Dr. Carin Ashljan, scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, spoke in Nome about her 11-year project looking at the bowhead feeding zones near Utqiagvik as part of the Strait Science lecture series hosted by UAF and Alaska Sea Grant.
An Alaska Sea Grant–funded research project on coastal erosion in western Alaska has concluded with good news for the village of Goodnews Bay.
In mid September two Unalaska high school students were invited to help necropsy a dead fur seal. Members of the Unalaska National Ocean Sciences Bowl team, the students learned how to take biological samples from the carcass for a national marine mammal stranding program.
Temperatures are dropping and the days are getting darker as Alaska moves into autumn. But despite the approaching winter chill, there’s lots of open water north of Alaska—a near record, in fact. That has potential implications for fall storms and coastal erosion in northwestern Alaska.
From SeafoodNews.com: Alaska Sea Grant, an organization created to help Alaska’s marine coastal and watershed ecosystems through research and education, is offering two programs to ensure that the seafood industry in the area continues to grow.
Glaciers are melting in many parts of the world. Southeast Alaska is no different. In this coastal temperate rainforest, about 30 percent of all water flowing from land to sea is glacial melt. That's expected to increase as the planet warms. But how will fish be affected? An Alaska Sea Grant funded research project aims to find out. Read more in the Juneau Empire. (Kevin Gullufsen/Juneau Empire photo)
Changes in rules, prices and the environment have swept Alaska’s multibillion-dollar fishing industry in recent decades. How are fishing families reacting and how are gender roles shifting? A former Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow takes a look.
To answer questions Alaskans are asking about the seaweed industry, Alaska Sea Grant’s Gary Freitag wrote a short publication on how to get a permit, setting up kelp lines and tending them on the farm, and hurdles that need solving. Seaweed culture is a promising industry for Alaska.
Three interns at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center reported on project outcomes at a recent seminar. Their work will be used by nutritional supplement marketers, Alaska seafood promoters and seafood processing plants.
Terry Johnson has spent much of his life on boats and on the coast. The marine agent and University of Alaska Fairbanks professor has commercially fished, led marine life viewing tours, assisted fishermen, been a prolific writer and helped coastal residents adapt to climate change.
There is a huge need for interaction between scientists and policy-makers, says Sea Grant Knauss Fellow Charlotte Regula-Whitefield. A scientist benefits from knowing the law process and how to reach people in a political bubble, and she’s learning the skills in DC.
Have you come across beached marine mammal remains in Alaska, and wondered if you could legally take them home? A new publication makes it easy to understand who has rights to bones, teeth and other parts for subsistence or souvenir.
After ten years of sailing the world and living down under, Mike Litzow has returned to Kodiak, Alaska, to work on several research projects. “Kodiak's position in the middle of the GOA shelf makes it a great place to do field work, and I'm looking forward to getting back to some hands-on biology,” he said.
Alaska’s coastal villages are experiencing some of the world’s most profound effects of a warming climate. Watch how one community is responding, with the help of Alaska Sea Grant.
Five emerging scientists and policymakers—all women—are starting new fellowships this summer. The Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows are beginning yearlong marine science positions in the next several weeks with agencies in Alaska.
A new traveling exhibit will teach visitors how human communities have relied on the Aleutian Islands as a source of food and protection. “Underwater Forests of the Aleutians” opened at the Museum of the Aleutians in Unalaska in July, and visitors can learn about ecosystems in the coastal environments surrounding the Aleutians and how communities depend on the resources that thrive there.
Thomas Farrugia’s university training, Knauss Fellowship in DC and other work have helped prepare him for a challenging and enjoyable fisheries management job. Read an interview with the UAF PhD candidate as he steps into a career on the other end of the globe.
Maggie Chan, graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will head to Washington, DC, next year as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow. She is in a select group nominated by Sea Grant programs nationwide who will start their fellowships in February 2018, and continues the recent success of Knauss applicants from Alaska.
Whale entanglements in fishing gear are infrequent near Petersburg but when they happen the Petersburg Marine Mammal Center needs trained people to respond. On June 30, NOAA’s Ed Lyman helped build the response team by training nine people in large whale disentanglement response methods.
Camron Christofferson and Phil Ganz are paid summer interns at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center, sponsored by Alaska Sea Grant and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Christofferson is studying treatments to rid fish of parasites, and Ganz communicates science to the public.
Petersburg kids get close-up look at sea creatures, courtesy of Alaska Sea Grant and Alaska Department of Fish and Game
In Petersburg, science divers brought sea animals to the surface this week to the delight of local children. Alaska Sea Grant’s Sunny Rice and Alaska Department of Fish and Game scuba divers gave lessons in marine biology, diving technology, and safety.
Alaska Sea Grant hosted a workshop for teachers recently where they wrote marine science lesson plans. The lessons expand on technology and engineering and connect science learning with local Alaska Native cultures.
A new fish plant opened in Hydaburg, a village in Southeast Alaska that is revitalizing its seafood industry. Alaska Sea Grant's Chris Sannito was a lead consultant on the project, helping the plant manager meet government requirements for safe food handling.
With the world’s most valuable wild salmon fishery under way, Alaska Sea Grant promotes marine safety at Bristol Bay Fish Expo
More than 40 million sockeye salmon are expected to return to Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska this summer. Of those, about 29 million could potentially be harvested, making it the world’s largest wild salmon run. To help commercial fishermen get their boats and themselves ready for the fast-paced fishing season, Alaska Sea Grant’s Gabe Dunham shared his knowledge at the recent Bristol Bay Fish Expo in Naknek.
As Congress wades through the budget process, Alaska Sea Grant receives strong support from the commercial fishing industry.
Alaska Sea Grant seafood specialists developed a pet treat from pollock skins that has proven very popular with dogs. Last month they won an award for the product, for “innovation in research leading to commercialization” from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization.
Gary Freitag, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent, is getting the word out about a technique that could enhance farmed oyster and kelp productivity. The quick-result method could help farmers in Alaska, allowing for the selection of faster growing cultured individuals.
More whales than ever are getting tangled in fishing gear and debris, causing some to drown, starve or get serious infections. Disentangling whales can be dangerous and difficult but the more people who can do it, the better. Alaska Sea Grant is hosting a training in Unalaska to prepare more individuals to respond to whale entanglements.
The Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute (ASPLI) gives mid-career employees a boost in moving up the leadership ladder, to keep the seafood industry strong and support the Alaska workforce. Companies sponsor experienced workers to receive the intensive professional development, and applications for the institute are due by September 30, 2017.
Researchers at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Purdue University see China as a promising market for Alaska salmon. They interviewed more than 1,000 consumers in major China cities and found that seafood from pristine Alaska waters harvested in a sustainable fishery is appealing to residents, many of whom have higher incomes.
Spring is a great time to get outside and explore Anchorage's salmon watersheds. Alaska Sea Grant teamed up with local partners this week to teach fourth- grade students from Creekside Park Elementary about what it takes to keep salmon healthy and thriving. The students became watershed investigators at Chester Creek. Check out Alaska Dispatch News’ photo gallery.
Fish populations and fisheries off Alaska are changing along with the climate. To discuss the latest research on changing fisheries, experts from around the globe will gather in Anchorage May 9–11 at the Wakefield Fisheries Symposium.
The three Cs: cold, clean and connected. Anchorage school children learn about three essential ingredients for healthy salmon habitat in a classroom session taught by Alaska Sea Grant's Marilyn Sigman.
The snow is melting, grass is starting to green up, and Alaskans are getting ready to hit the water to fish and recreate. What better time to take a class on outboard motor maintenance? Alaska Sea Grant, in partnership with the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus, is offering an outboard class April 21–23.
Kodiak residents will learn about the latest scientific information coming out of their region, at the Kodiak Area Marine Science Symposium, coming up April 18–21. Additional events for the community are a bird die-off workshop, a tour of the Alutiiq Museum, a whale-watching hike, a beach clean-up, and a poster session.
Update 5/25/17: The White House released its full 2018 budget plan this week which calls for the termination of the National Sea Grant College Program. National Sea Grant receives about $73 million from Congress annually for research, education and outreach in 31 coastal states, and Guam and Puerto Rico. In return, it creates some $575 million in economic impact, an 854 percent return on investment.
Have you ever wanted to learn how to turn fish eggs into caviar, or make food products that appeal to Asian consumers in particular? Alaska Sea Grant is offering a two-day “Roe School” in Kodiak in April.
Alaska Sea Grant will host two science conferences in April, one in the Aleutian Islands chain, the other in the fishing port of Kodiak. The conferences provide a forum for learning and collaborating between scientists and the public.
Alaska Sea Grant and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute are offering two seafood science summer internships in Kodiak. One will focus on creating online content about wild seafood products and issues, and the second internship will investigate parasite control measures for wild Alaska seafood products.
Alaska Sea Grant will sponsor several events at the 2017 ComFish Alaska trade show, March 30–April 1 in Kodiak. Take a seat at the speaker forum, sign up for a fishermen's skills competition, watch a lifeboat pop and more.
In the wake of the White House's proposed elimination of funding for Sea Grant, Alaska's congressional delegation has expressed strong support for the Alaska program. In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, Alaska’s senators called the proposed cuts to NOAA, which houses Sea Grant, dangerous and drastic.
Alaska Sea Grant is offering a short course for Alaska food processors on preventive controls for human food. Food producers who take the class will be able to comply with a new food regulation and also improve their business.
US aquaculture enterprises are thriving, but there is a lot of potential for growth in this $1.2 billion industry. To enhance growth, National Sea Grant is seeking applicants for two opportunities for aquaculture projects. Investigators are strongly encouraged to work closely with Alaska Sea Grant during letter of intent/proposal development.
After two years of collecting and analyzing fish data from Southeast Alaska estuaries, Carolyn Bergstrom highlighted her work before members of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. She found that fish were more diverse in non-glacier-influenced habitats.
Sixteen high school teams from across Alaska met in Seward on February 16 to compete in an ocean-based academic competition. Not only did students learn a plethora of ocean facts as they prepared, they also gained academic skills as they wrote and presented a research paper.
On Tuesday, February 28, Gary Freitag will present a webinar overview of kelp and seaweed farming and its potential as an emerging industry in Alaska. Marine Advisory agents in Unalaska, Petersburg, and Kodiak will host live webinar viewing opportunities in their communities.
Alaska Sea Grant is offering educational and training opportunities to support the Alaska seafood industry, and home fish smokers, throughout 2017. Currently scheduled are courses on skills to avoid foodborne illness, roe processing, smoked seafood, and leadership training for processing company employees.
To mark its 50-year anniversary celebration, National Sea Grant featured several nationwide projects in a Research-to-Application highlight, among them Tony Gharrett’s 30-year research on Alaska pink salmon. The national program created a video animation outlining milestones of Gharrett’s studies.
About 40 hardy souls—including eight children under the age of 12—took the plunge in Cordova’s harbor earlier this month during the annual Iceworm Festival survival suit races.
Alaska Sea Grant’s Gay Sheffield took part in a One Health exercise with international experts from tribes, government agencies, and academic and private sectors to address vulnerabilities in food systems. The One Health collaborative approach is especially pertinent in the Arctic, where people depend on natural resources for subsistence, including marine and terrestrial wildlife.
An Alaska Sea Grant research fellow addressed the Alaska Forum on the Environment this week about his work to connect Bristol Bay residents with tools to help them monitor shoreline erosion.
An interview with University of Washington anthropologist Margaret Willson about her new book on women, Iceland, and life at sea
Cultural anthropologist Margaret Willson, who will visit Alaska next week, spent her early years working on fishing boats in Oregon and in the South Pacific. Lately she has turned her attention to Iceland and its women who work at sea. Willson has a new book exploring the vivid lives of Icelandic women, past and present, and the fascinating society from which they hail. Willson took some time recently to speak with Alaska Sea Grant’s Paula Dobbyn about the origin of the book and also about her own former life at sea.
Alaska Sea Grant director Paula Cullenberg presented UAF students Sarah Traiger and Jenell Larsen with awards for best student presentations at the 2017 Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage.
University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student Kelly Cates begins her Knauss Fellowship in Washington, DC, in February at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A master’s student in fisheries at UAF, Cates will work at the NOAA Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs. Her career goal is to foster better cooperation among scientists, lawmakers, government officials, and the public so that science informs important policy decisions. As she drove across the country to DC, Cates took time to answer a few questions.
With a freshly minted PhD in hand, University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate Charlotte Regula-Whitefield is heading to Washington, D.C. to begin a Knauss Fellowship in the office of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. We sat down with Charlotte to find out what brought her to this point, and what she hopes for the experience to come.
December 22, 2016
Residents from three Alaska villages joined researchers, policy experts, and others at a two-day symposium on climate change and its impacts on coastal communities worldwide. Alaska Sea Grant helped organize the event in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi.
October 28, 2016
Each year, Alaska holds a regional ocean sciences competition as part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. Sunny Rice has co-coached the Petersburg team every year since 2009.