Fishlines newsletter

Vol. 36, No. 12
December 2016

Coming up

Alaska Harmful Algal Bloom Network to Form

a red algal bloom

Alaskans harvest shellfish for sport and subsistence with a risk of getting sick from paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Alaska Sea Grant and the Alaska Ocean Observing System hosted a workshop recently to address this human and environmental health concern.

“It is exciting to see that researchers, tribes, managers, and other monitoring groups may be uniting to educate the public with relevant real-time data, so they can make informed decisions about when to harvest shellfish,” said Southeast Alaska Tribal Toxins director Christopher Whitehead, a speaker at the workshop. Commercially harvested and farmed shellfish are tested for PSP and are safe for human consumption.

The workshop, Developing a Harmful Algal Bloom Action Plan for Alaska, was held in Anchorage December 8-9. About 80 people attended, including harmful algal bloom (HAB) experts and state regulators, as well as groups that are affected by toxic marine blooms such as tribal leaders and shellfish growers.

“We learned from participants that increased temperatures promote harmful algal blooms in the North Pacific’s cold waters… Alaska must take action now on harmful algal blooms in our changing oceans,” said Bruce Wright, Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association.

The workshop was the first step to create an action plan. “There was lots of agreement reached by the conclusion of our two-day workshop about putting together a harmful algal bloom action plan for Alaska,” said Ginny Eckert, UAF professor and Alaska Sea Grant associate director for research.

Workshop participants will set up a new steering committee to guide the development of a statewide HAB network. One goal of the network will be to share information, data, best practices, and outreach tools, to better predict blooms of toxic marine algae and inform Alaskans of the risks of shellfish sport and subsistence harvest. If you are interested in participating in the Alaska HAB network, contact Ginny Eckert.

New Alaska Sea Grant Communications Manager

Paula Dobbyn

Paula Dobbyn, a longtime Alaska journalist, is the new communications manager at Alaska Sea Grant. She most recently worked for KTUU TV in Anchorage as a senior digital news reporter and producer, writing news, curating content for the website, and contributing to social media.

At Alaska Sea Grant, Dobbyn is responsible for managing all aspects of the communications program. “Alaska Sea Grant is working with residents to understand and address some of the state’s most pressing issues. These include climate change, ocean acidification, sustainable fisheries, and workforce development in the country's most remote and biologically productive communities. I look forward to telling these stories and shining a spotlight on Alaska Sea Grant’s work in America’s only arctic state,” Dobbyn said.

Dobbyn has served as a business and environment reporter at the former Anchorage Daily News, and as a reporter and television newscaster at Juneau’s public radio station, KTOO. In addition, she was communications director for the Trout Unlimited Alaska Program, and is an adjunct journalism professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She has a BA in political theory and Latin American studies, and an LLM in human rights law.

Dobbyn works in the Anchorage Alaska Sea Grant office. See Paula Dobbyn’s staff profile and contact information.

Call for Research Pre-proposals


Alaska Sea Grant invites pre-proposals for research projects for 2018–2020. Investigators at academic, research, and education institutions throughout Alaska are invited to apply for one- to two-year research projects that contribute to Alaska Sea Grant and state priority needs, and advance knowledge in healthy coastal ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, resilient communities and economies, and environmental literacy and workforce development.

Approximately $500,000 per year will be available for the projects, with budgets of about $100,000 each. An additional $400,000–$500,000 total may be available to fund students directly during the two-year cycle.

Research pre-proposals are due February 27, 2017. For more information see the news release “Alaska Sea Grant requests marine research proposals that address Alaska issues”, or contact Michele Frandsen or Ginny Eckert.

Alaska Aquaculture Resources

community members monitoring coastline changes

Alaska Aquaculture Resources is a new Alaska Sea Grant website, especially useful for Alaska shellfish farmers. More than 160 publications, presentations, websites, spreadsheets, and videos are available on the site to educate and train Alaskans working in aquaculture or who want to learn more about it.

In Alaska, aquatic farming is restricted to shellfish and seaweeds. Shellfish farming started as a fledgling industry in the late 1970s and was revitalized with passage of the Alaska Aquatic Farm Act in 1988. Ray RaLonde, former Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory specialist, played a critical role in moving the industry forward. By 2014, 65 aquatic farms, seven nurseries, and two hatcheries were in operation. That year shellfish farming, including “seed” sales, surpassed $1 million in farm gate value for the first time in the state, based on 34 farms. Today mariculture (marine aquaculture) is seeing renewed attention through the Alaska Mariculture Task Force.

Alaska Sea Grant supports the growing aquaculture industry through research, technical assistance, and training by Marine Advisory agents and has invested over $2 million in support of the industry over the last 10 years.

Call for Abstracts for 2017 Wakefield Fisheries Symposium

fishing net

The deadline is January 15, 2017, for submitting abstracts for the 2017 Wakefield Fisheries Symposium—Impacts of a Changing Environment on the Dynamics of High-latitude Fish and Fisheries. The symposium will be held May 9–12, 2017, in Anchorage, Alaska.

The symposium will address impacts of the environment, including climate change, on arctic and subarctic species of commercial, subsistence, and ecological importance. Abstracts for 15–20 minute oral presentations and posters are invited from fishery, marine, and social scientists; managers; and representatives from industry and affected communities. Presentations are encouraged on the effects of warming, loss of sea ice, ocean acidification, and oceanographic variability on the distribution, phenology, life history, and population dynamics of these species.

Graduate students will have the opportunity to seek travel funding, work at the symposium to waive the registration fee, and enter oral and poster competitions for the symposium.