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1 Introduction T he North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) was created in 1997 as a result of the Environmental Improvement and Restoration Fund (EIRF) legislation. The fund resulted from a disagreement between the U.S. government and the State of Alaska over the ownership of sub- merged lands along Alaska's Arctic Coast (the "Dinkum Sands case"). From 1979 to 1997, oil and gas lease sales of the disputed tracts remained in escrow earning interest. In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of the U.S. government, at which time the escrow balance was approximately $1.6 billion. An appropriation was subsequently made for the North Pacific Marine Research Initiative. This fund was originally identified as the National Parks and Environmental Improvement Fund, but the House-Senate Interior Appropriations Conference Committee made several changes to an amendment, including the fund title, which then became the Environ- mental Improvement and Restoration Fund. The bill was approved and signed into law in November 1997 (P.L. 105-83; see Appendix F), thus creating the EIRF and the NPRB. The enabling legislation (Appendix F) called for a portion of EIRF funds to be used to: . . . conduct research activities on or relating to the fisheries or marine ecosystems in the north Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, and Arctic Ocean (including any lesser related bodies of water). . . . [with] . . . priority on cooperative research efforts designed to address pressing fishery management or marine ecosystem information needs. 13

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14 ELEMENTS OF A SCIENCE PLAN FOR THE NPRB The NPRB is charged to develop a high-quality comprehensive science program to enhance understanding of the North Pacific, Bering Sea, and Arctic Ocean ecosystems and fisheries. The work of the NPRB will, over time, include science planning, prioritizing marine research and fisheries research needs, fostering coordination and cooperation among research programs, selecting research projects on a competitive basis, increasing the availability of information, and facilitating public involvement. The NPRB will strive to avoid duplication of other research in the region, in an effort to create its own unique legacy. CURRENT STRUCTURE OF THE NORTH PACIFIC RESEARCH BOARD The purpose of the NPRB is to recommend marine research initiatives to the U.S. secretary of commerce, who is charged with approving final funding decisions. The NPRB is composed of 20 representatives (or their designees) who are knowledgeable by education, training, or experience of fisheries or marine ecosystems of the North Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, or Arctic Ocean. The NPRB members are as follows: the secretary of commerce; the secretary of state; the secretary of the interior; the commandant of the Coast Guard; the director of the Office of Naval Research; the commissioner of the Alaska Fish and Game Department; the chairman of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council; the chairman of the Arctic Research Commission; the director of the Oil Spill Recovery Institute; the director of the Alaska SeaLife Center; five members nominated by the governor of Alaska and appointed by the secretary of commerce, one of whom shall represent fishing interests, one of whom shall represent Alaska Natives, one of whom shall represent environmental interests, one of whom shall represent academia, and one of whom shall represent oil and gas interests; three members nominated by the governor of Washington and appointed by the secretary of commerce; one member nominated by the governor of Oregon and appointed by the secretary of commerce; and one member who shall represent fishing interests and shall be nominated by the NPRB and appointed by the secretary of commerce. The NPRB established a Science Panel that may (and currently does)

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INTRODUCTION 15 consist of up to 14 members. Science Panel members are selected by the NPRB and serve staggered two-year terms. Science Panel members are selected for their expertise, broad perspective, and leadership in areas important to the NPRB's research program. Currently the Science Panel performs the following duties as requested by the NPRB: Advise the NPRB on science planning and identification of research priorities. Help develop a science plan. Advise the board in the identification, development, collection, and evaluation of scientific information relevant to the NPRB's mission. Review proposals and technical evaluations received by the NPRB. Review reports and advise the NPRB on how to ensure report quality and applications generated from funded research. Provide annual reviews of funded research to ensure that stated goals and milestones of the research are on schedule. Provide other scientific advice as requested. The NPRB has also established an Advisory Panel to allow for com- munity involvement in the science program from planning to oversight and review. The Advisory Panel may consist of up to 20 members (there are currently 10) representing user groups and other interested parties from the various regions. Specific areas of expertise for the panel members are not identified; rather, panel members are selected to provide expertise on current research priorities and requirements and to provide balanced representation across regions and topical research areas. The NPRB will add additional panel members or change existing membership over time in response to changing research directions and issues. The Advisory Panel meets as deemed necessary by its chair, and its advice is provided directly to the NPRB. The NPRB office and staff are located in Anchorage, Alaska. The NPRB also administers the North Pacific Marine Research Institute (NPMRI) at the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC). CURRENT RESEARCH FUNDING PROCEDURES OF THE NPRB Although NPRB program managers recognize the importance of a careful planning process with input from the science community and other stakeholders, they also wanted to begin work quickly to demon- strate the program's potential. The NPRB is expected to support about $10 million to $11 million in research each year based on its portion of the interest earnings on the EIRF. To this end, the NPRB approved approxi- mately $2.2 million in research for 2002 and $7 million in new research in

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16 ELEMENTS OF A SCIENCE PLAN FOR THE NPRB 2003. Lower interest rates have resulted in reduced yields of the fund, which in turn has resulted in a reduction in NPRB research funding in 2004 to approximately $3 million. A further reduction is expected in future years unless interest rates increase. The NPRB meets three to four times each year. The NPRB establishes written criteria for the submission of grant requests through a competi- tive process and decides annual grants. The board receives advice from its Science and Advisory Panels (as described above) and recommends grants based on the merits of the request and the extent to which the proposed research meets criteria established by the NPRB. The secretary, through a designee, the Alaska regional administrator of the National Marine Fish- eries Service (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] Fisheries), reviews all grants recommended by the board. If the secretary decides not to approve a project recommended by the board, he or she must provide a written explanation. The NPRB uses an open, competitive process for requesting and fund- ing research proposals. Each year, the NPRB establishes research priorities. These research priorities are included in the request for proposals (RFP) that is released each fall (see Appendix B for a list of the research priorities for 2002 and 2003). To access the 2004 RFP, visit http://www.nprb.org/ research/res_2004.htm. The RFP provides criteria for research proposal submission and evaluation. The enabling legislation allows research grants to be made to federal, state, private, or foreign organizations or individuals. DEVELOPMENT OF THE NPRB SCIENCE PLAN To ensure that its science plan is of the highest quality, the NPRB asked the National Academies to provide advice on the components of a sound science plan and then evaluate the science plan after it has been written. For this purpose, the Committee on a Science Plan for the North Pacific Research Board was formed (Appendix C). The charge to the committee and purpose of this study can be found in the Statement of Task (Box ES-1). This interim report provides advice on the components of a science plan for the NPRB, but it is not intended to be a science plan and it does not provide science priorities because the Statement of Task requested that the committee provide broad research themes. The committee also did not want to restrict the NPRB to specific topics because the NPRB Science Plan has to allow for a broad range of research topics and think- ing "outside the box." Development of specific research themes will be an important task for the NPRB, and this must be done based on science, community input, and value judgments. It also would be useful to develop the conceptual foundation before the science priorities.

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INTRODUCTION 17 This report was developed using the experience and expertise of the National Research Council committee members; input on research themes and needs from scientists at a workshop conducted in Anchorage, Alaska (Box 1-1; Appendix D); and input on research needs received from stake- holders, scientists, and managers at a series of nine site visits conducted in communities in Alaska and in Washington (see Box 1-2; Appendix B), rather than an extensive literature review. Committee meetings were con- ducted in conjunction with the workshop in Anchorage and the site visit in Seattle. A third committee meeting was held in Irvine, California. BOX 1-1 The Science Workshop Part of the committee's charge is to identify research needs and themes for the Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea, and North Pacific Ocean and provide them to the NPRB in this interim report. To assist in this process, a science workshop was held in Anchorage, Alaska, on March 28-29, 2003. Experts were invited and provided presentations from regional and thematic per- spectives. The workshop began with presentations on the Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea, and North Pacific Ocean. After these presentations, a series of six panels were convened each consisting of three to five panelists. Each panelist gave a presentation followed by open discussion and questions from the committee and other participants. The panel themes were as follows: Mammals and Seabirds Fisheries Socioeconomics Health and Contaminants Oceanography and Climate Marine Ecosystems Time was also made available for public input on both days of the workshop. The workshop agenda and list of participants can be found in Appendix E. The presentations and discussions that occurred at this workshop pro- vided the committee with valuable information on the scientific under- standing of and research needs for the region. The committee considered this information along with information from site visits to nine coastal communities in Alaska and in Seattle, Washington, in identifying and rec- ommending science priorities for the NPRB.

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18 ELEMENTS OF A SCIENCE PLAN FOR THE NPRB BOX 1-2 Importance of Site Visits in Defining Science Priorities Part of the committee's charge (Box ES-1) was to conduct a series of site visits to discuss local concerns and research needs concerning marine eco- systems and fisheries. Beginning with a visit to Kodiak, Alaska, after the Science Workshop (Box 1-1), the committee traveled to nine Alaskan communities and to Seattle, Washington, over a two-month period. More details on the site visits are available in Appendix D, but a summary of each is provided below. Information gathered during these visits was con- sidered in defining the science themes in Chapter 3. Kodiak. The major local concerns included the prevalence of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), which can be fatal to humans; variations in crab, shrimp, and fish species; the influence of sharks on fishing; and finding ways to incorporate traditional knowledge more fully into research. Although PSP has been apparent around Kodiak Island for generations, local citizens felt almost unanimously that it has increased in the last decade due to additional contaminants, in particular the Valdez oil spill, such that eating shellfish at any time of the year is now dangerous. Ship surveys have noted substantial variations in crab, shrimp, and fish species near Kodiak Island, and while the variations may be linked to low-frequency atmospheric vari- ability, the causal links are not fully understood at present. Unfortunately, at a time when the shrimp population appears to be rebounding (and the crab population may be decreasing), funds for ship surveys are threatened and therefore may not continue in the next few years. Local fishers also suggested that sleeper sharks are feeding off the long-line bait, thus drasti- cally reducing catch. Finally, Kodiak Island Natives have a long history of traditional knowledge of local climate and marine ecosystem conditions, yet they are rarely consulted in research projects. They felt that this may be due in part to a lack of knowledge of how to approach tribes and tribal- native organizations and suggested that scientists need cultural training to improve interactions between researchers and Alaskan Natives. Fairbanks. Local concerns in Fairbanks centered on the need for more nearshore research, particularly in the Bering and Beaufort Seas. These areas were implicated as critical habitats for marine mammals and fish, including those important to the subsistence economy and commercial industry, and they remain largely understudied. The Bering and Beaufort Seas exhibit large seasonal variations, prompting concerns about the sensi- tivity of these regions to climate change. Specific issues include the effect of decreasing ice cover on commercial and subsistence activities, shellfish contamination and sustainability, harmful algal blooms, and gray whale

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INTRODUCTION 19 habitats. Participants also advocated that coastal communities are an important and underutilized source of knowledge and support. Subse- quently, all agreed that there is a need for partnerships among indigenous peoples, local and federal governments, industry, and research entities. Barrow. Statements from individual participants emphasized that hunting and fishing are culturally, nutritionally, and religiously very important to local communities. Many were concerned with subsistence fisheries and hunting of marine mammals, particularly the sustainability of bowhead whale populations. Minimal long-term data are available for this species, and there are no data on their prey or predators. For example, killer whale populations are increasing, yet little is known about their interactions with northern whale and seal populations, illustrating the importance of eco- system-based research. Also at issue were increasing the ship strikes on baleen whales, net entanglement of marine mammals, intrusion of com- mercial fishing fleets from the Bering Sea-Chuckchi region, impact of noise on marine mammals, and environmental impact of the oil industry. The oil industry was specifically noted as altering fish and whale migratory patterns, creating noise from drilling, and causing polluting (i.e., oil spills). Residents in Barrow also expressed concern for the impacts of climate trends on sea ice, subsistence organisms, and their predators and prey. Finally, residents were concerned about contaminants, particularly because there is no program to monitor bioaccumulation of toxins in animals. Juneau. Issues of concern in Juneau included the decline of marine mam- mals and fisheries, and contaminants. Particular issues to emerge were the maintenance of salmon stocks, determining the nature of the relationship between farmed and wild salmon, and assessing whether hatchery fish are a health concern for indigenous peoples. The prime worry of local commu- nities was the decrease in the salmon populations in the Yukon-Kuskokwim regions and the relationship of this decline to coincident changes in halibut distribution and availability (Pribilofs), spawning patterns of herring (South- east), and the declining crab population (Gulf of Alaska). Several residents also were concerned about climate change, particularly with regard to sea ice coverage, and the impact on subsistence hunting. Evidence was also presented that showed contaminants in seals and halibut and toxic quantities of pollutants in killer whales and in seawater. Kotzebue. The major concerns in Kotzebue included a decline in the beluga whale population, the belief that climate warming already is occur- ring, a perceived reduction in blubber thickness in marine mammals, and a pressing need for information on bearded seals. Beluga whales that popu- late Kotzebue Sound migrate to the Chukchi Sea. In 1984, many belugas continued

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20 ELEMENTS OF A SCIENCE PLAN FOR THE NPRB BOX 1-2 Continued from this population were trapped in sea ice and perished, and the beluga population has never recovered. Residents also claimed that "we know there is warming up here"; the ice has been dangerously thin the last four to five years and has been freezing late, which affects hunting. Locals used to be able to traverse the ice safely, but several recent incidents suggest that travel is becoming dangerous. For instance, days prior to the site visit, a local hunter fell through the ice, something that apparently was historically a rarity. Water levels and temperatures also are higher and warmer than they used to be, with more frequent storms. A final concern in Kotzebue was the lack of information on bearded seals--these mammals face the most severe hunting pressure, yet almost nothing is known about their population variability. Dillingham. Many of the major concerns in Dillingham echoed those in other locations (i.e., climate change, whale population decreases, pollut- ants). Additional concerns in Dillingham include the crash of the salmon population and the disappearance of birds. Elders suggest that both are related to climate change. The collapse of the salmon fishing industry has also led to substantial social upheaval in Dillingham and the surrounding communities. People are moving out of the area, schools are closing, post offices are shutting down, and houses are for sale. In other words, the effects are accumulating. Anchorage. The main concerns in Anchorage included contamination of food, environmental impacts, and developing essential fish habitats. Resi- dents expressed the need to investigate seafood contaminants in the sub- sistence economy, in particular, the concern that contaminants may be related to an increasing incidence of cancer. Locals also noted that cruise ships were a source of pollution, allegedly (unregulated) waste dumping, and disrupting seals with their pups; there apparently is a 14 percent decline in seals in the affected area. Criticism against salmon hatcheries was voiced, because of a fear that hatched salmon might displace stocks in certain rivers and that the genetic diversity of salmon might be compro- mised. Several people mentioned essential fish habitat as a research priority. Data from observers on board vessels are an untapped source of information on essential fish habitats. Apparently, these data are not in an accessible form, and there are concerns about privacy issues. Bethel. Issues of concern in Bethel closely matched those in Dillingham. Several people discussed the problems of the subsistence economy. Salmon runs are down, severely limiting catches; the human population is

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INTRODUCTION 21 increasing, putting pressure on the resources; and the need for cash income is increasing because of increasing use of motorized vehicles. Several people stressed the importance of traditional knowledge and concern that this knowledge has to be collected before it is too late. They also warned that traditional knowledge can be abused. Not everyone is able to record it or use it, and there was an implication that researchers often say they will incorporate traditional knowledge into their studies, but do not ultimately follow through. Traditional knowledge is potentially useful because the history of Western science in this part of the world is short. A third con- cern, the variability of salmon runs and their recent substantial decline, was a recurrent theme. Salmon spend about 90 percent of their life in the sea, yet the understanding of what happens to them during this phase pales in comparison to the knowledge of their life in fresh water. Seattle. Concern in Seattle focused less on subsistence issues and more on industry. Testimony from people representing the fishing industry stressed the economic benefits of the new management arrangements for Alaska pollock. Recovery rates in the industry have improved, and the fishing seasons have become longer, with better utilization of fleet capacity. The usefulness of observers on board fishing vessels was emphasized. Industry representatives confirmed the unwillingness of industry to provide infor- mation on costs and revenues of individual companies, but argued that economic analysis of the fishery could go a long way by using generic data. The NPRB will write its science plan in 2004. Upon completion, the NPRB Science Plan will be provided to the National Academies for evalu- ation by the committee. The committee will provide the NPRB with an evaluation of the science plan and advice for its improvement in the form of a final report in late 2004 or early 2005. CHARACTERIZATION OF THE ARCTIC OCEAN, BERING SEA, AND NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN The following sections provide a brief physical characterization of each of the three ocean regions specified in the enabling legislation of the NPRB to provide context for understanding the questions that might be addressed in its science program.

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22 ELEMENTS OF A SCIENCE PLAN FOR THE NPRB Arctic Ocean The Arctic Ocean occupies an area of 9.5 106 km2 and includes the Eurasian and Canada Basins, for which the greatest depth has been measured at more than 5,000 m. A predominant feature of this ocean is the prevalence of continental shelves (<200 m), which account for more than half of the ocean area. The Arctic Ocean, as defined by the enabling legislation, includes the semilandlocked region formed by drawing boundaries across the Bering Strait, the northern limit of the Canadian Archipelago, Fram Strait, and between the eastern tip of Spitzbergen and the Northern tip of Norway (Figure 1-1). The defining feature of this ocean is sea ice, which includes both a permanent pack in the interior ocean and seasonal ice in the marginal seas. Ice accumulation during winter may exceed 2 m in first-year ice, while the permanent pack achieves an average thickness of up to 7 m in the region north of the Archipelago. The surrounding land masses provide a large inflow of fresh water (~3,300 km3/yr), sediments (670 Mt/yr), and organic carbon (12.6 Mt/yr) via rivers and coastal erosion (Aagaard and Carmack, 1989; Stein and Macdonald, 2003). Owing to mechanisms such as the ice-albedo feedback, the Arctic Ocean is thought to be in the vanguard of environmental change. Accord- ingly, recent observations of the loss of ice cover, especially in the marginal seas during summer, together with changes in ice-drift trajectories, sea- ice thickness, and the distribution of fresh water in the upper ocean have engendered considerable concern that the Arctic has already begun to change (Serreze et al., 2000), with poorly understood consequences for the organic carbon cycle and the marine ecosystem. Better access to this ocean as a result of the loss of ice cover is likely to encourage further commercial development, including fisheries, transport, and oil exploration--mostly in the marginal seas. Bering Sea1 The Bering Sea, a northern extension of the North Pacific Ocean, is the world's third largest semienclosed sea. The Bering Sea covers almost 3 106 km2 and has an extremely wide continental shelf, ranging from 500 km in the southeast region to more than 800 km in the north. It is bounded by the Seward and Chukchi peninsulas on the north, by the Kamchatka Peninsula on the southwest, and by a 1,900-km-long ridge and island chain that comprises the Aleutians to the south and southwest 1Some of the information in this section was obtained from the National Research Council's report The Bering Sea Ecosystem (NRC, 1996).

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23 Seattle t e ctic Ocean Juneau Ar Gyr Beaufor age w ue ent eb Fairbanks Barro otz Anchor Curr K Siberian odiak K Dillingham Bethel ent Curr Alaska Sea Bering region. th Pacific NPRB Nor the of Map 1-1 FIGURE

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24 ELEMENTS OF A SCIENCE PLAN FOR THE NPRB (Figure 1-1). It exchanges water with the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait and with the North Pacific Ocean through the Aleutian Islands and the Kamchatka Strait. There is a general cyclonic flow within the basin, with an intensified western boundary current (the Kamchatka Current), and a northwestward- flowing eastern boundary current associated with the eastern continental slope (Bering Slope Current). The Bering Slope Current eventually bifurcates and travels north through the Bering Strait and south along the Kamchatka Peninsula (Kinder et al., 1986). Tidal mixing is very important in the outer shelf, and tidal currents account for about 80 percent of the flow. In the middle shelf, tidal and intertidal currents account for most of the flow. In the coastal zone, tidal currents account for about 95 percent of the flow (Coachman, 1986). An unusual physical characteristic of the Bering Sea shelf is the annual ice cover that extends more than 1,700 km at its farthest seasonal extent (Walsh and Johnson, 1979). In the winter, much of the shelf is covered with ice. In summer, the ice edge retreats into the Chuckchi and Beaufort Seas. The growth of ice over the deeper water in the central basin is limited. North Pacific Ocean2 The North Pacific Ocean is bounded on the north by the Alaska main- land, the Aleutian Islands, and Russia; to the east by Alaska, Canada, and the continental United States; and to the west by Russia and Japan (Figure 1-1). To the south is open ocean. The boundary location is defined as the equator or some other location to the north of the equator. These other definitions can be based on latitude, water mass characteristics, or loca- tion of currents or gyres. In the northeast, Pacific Ocean depths can be greater than 4,000 m and can exceed 7,000 m in the Aleutian Trench, which parallels the southern boundaries of the Aleutian Islands. The continental shelf is relatively narrow (<50 km) along the coasts of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska but is nearly 200 m wide along the Kenai and Alaska Peninsulas. In general, surface circulation is predominantly to the west in the low latitudes (North Equatorial Current) and to the east in the high latitudes (North Pacific Drift) (Royer, 1998). When these currents encounter a con- tinent, they are diverted either north or south as coastal currents. In the west, the coastal current (Kuroshio Current) moves north, and in the east, 2Some of the information in this section was obtained from the National Marine Fish- eries Service, http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/seis/intro.htm.

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INTRODUCTION 25 the coastal current (California Current) moves south (although there is some flow to the north forming the Alaska Current). The Alaska Current moves north and west along the continental margin of Alaska. As it moves further west, it is known as the Alaskan Stream. An extension of the Alaska Current known as the Aleutian Current flows to the south and southeast and completes the counterclockwise circulation. This circula- tion is known as the Alaskan Gyre. The Oyashio Current moves south along the Kamchatka Peninsula and toward Japan before it turns to the east and becomes part of the North Pacific Drift.