4
Foundations for a Restoration and Research Plan

ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS FOR THE AYK SSI SCIENCE PLAN

  • A mission and/or vision statement: the mission is an intellectual statement that defines the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) Sustainable Salmon Initiative’s (SSI’s) role, and the vision statement comes from informed imagination.

  • Background information: this includes a brief regional description, present state of knowledge, and other relevant science plans.

  • Research and restoration issues and needs the plan will address these include fishery management and ecosystem concerns along with other scientific issues.

  • An overarching theme: the theme is the thread that binds the individual research topics together.

  • A set of research themes and approaches to accomplish the needed research: this set often includes topics such as processes and variability in the physical environment, species responses to perturbations, food web dynamics, contaminants, essential habitat, monitoring, modeling, process-oriented studies, and retrospective studies.

  • Implementation and protocol issues: these include topics such as policies for cooperation, identifying and addressing user needs, data quality, management and dissemination, logistics, outreach and education, and community involvement.



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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon 4 Foundations for a Restoration and Research Plan ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS FOR THE AYK SSI SCIENCE PLAN A mission and/or vision statement: the mission is an intellectual statement that defines the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) Sustainable Salmon Initiative’s (SSI’s) role, and the vision statement comes from informed imagination. Background information: this includes a brief regional description, present state of knowledge, and other relevant science plans. Research and restoration issues and needs the plan will address these include fishery management and ecosystem concerns along with other scientific issues. An overarching theme: the theme is the thread that binds the individual research topics together. A set of research themes and approaches to accomplish the needed research: this set often includes topics such as processes and variability in the physical environment, species responses to perturbations, food web dynamics, contaminants, essential habitat, monitoring, modeling, process-oriented studies, and retrospective studies. Implementation and protocol issues: these include topics such as policies for cooperation, identifying and addressing user needs, data quality, management and dissemination, logistics, outreach and education, and community involvement.

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon DEVELOPMENT OF RESEARCH FRAMEWORKS The elements of a restoration and scientific research plan include a focus of the program, methods to develop research themes, assessment of prior research and restoration efforts, and integration of the study plan with ongoing research programs. In Chapter 3, we reviewed the current knowledge of factors that affect salmon abundance in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region, and we identified knowledge gaps and areas of concern for further research. However, just identifying knowledge gaps and areas of further research does not constitute a research plan. Which knowledge gaps should receive priority? Should the most expensive projects be funded initially? Should less expensive projects receive high priorities so that more research can be funded? Even if we had easily identified priorities, how could important research be accomplished to build knowledge synergistically? To accomplish this goal of building knowledge in a systematic fashion, a framework is needed that guides the integration of research into a larger picture than would be available from individual projects by themselves. The research framework presents a vantage point that integrates current knowledge and gaps into a broad vision of the world. For a problem as complex as the decline in salmon abundance in the AYK region, no single framework seems likely to encompass all research gaps into a unified body of knowledge. For this reason, we adopted three frameworks with different vantage points to address the problem; they should be viewed as examples that could be used in developing a detailed research plan. The three frameworks are based on a fish-centric view, a human-centric view, and a retrospective human view. They lead to research questions. There is some overlap with the questions in the previous chapter, but only partial. Because these questions were developed through a different pathway, they are listed in this chapter. The final chapter provides a broad approach to prioritizing all the questions. Framework 1: Understanding Salmon Life History and Population Dynamics The focus of a fish-centric research program developed within this framework would be to explain annual and longer-term variations in the abundance of salmon in terms of the processes that affect their reproduc-

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon tive ecology and their growth and mortality during each life history stage. One challenge of this approach is that salmon make use of a sequence of freshwater and marine habitats during their life cycle (Figure 4-1). As a result, a research program developed within this framework needs to integrate and prioritize studies that cover the full range of habitats used by the salmon and the full range of important processes that operate in these habitats. Fortunately, this approach can draw on the tremendous amount of information and knowledge that exists on the ecology of the five species of salmon described in Chapters 2 and 3. This knowledge provides an excellent background against which to identify the important knowledge gaps, many of which are described in Chapter 3; it also provides considerable guidance on how to structure a research program. Some of the research themes, questions, and approaches identified in earlier chapters that might be considered when developing a science plan within this framework are as follows. How are the reproductive ecology, survival, and growth of salmon influenced by changes in the physical and biological characteristics of their freshwater and marine habitats? What determines variability in egg-fry survival? What determines growth and survival during freshwater residence? What determines survival during the smolt outmigration? What determines growth and survival during the first summer at sea? What determines growth and survival during the first winter at sea? What determines the growth and survival of .1 and older fish at sea? What determines survival during the spawning migration? What determines the fecundity and spawning success of mature adults? How do human activities affect the survival and growth of salmon in freshwater and marine environments? How do activities that affect freshwater habitats (jet boating, placer mining) affect reproduction, survival, and growth in freshwater?

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon FIGURE 4-1 Salmon life cycle and factors that could influence population variability. This conceptual model is based on the salmon life cycle and can be shared across a wide range of holders of ecological knowledge and provides hypotheses for salmon declines. Modified from an original drawing by Andy Bassich (Eagle, Alaska). How does the bycatch of salmon affect marine survival? How do interception fisheries in U.S. and Russian waters affect marine survival? How does competition with ranched salmon affect growth and survival? How do human-induced changes in climate affect ocean growth and survival? How do fisheries-induced changes in marine food webs affect growth and survival?

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon How do terminal fisheries affect survival? How does the selection imposed by human-induced mortality affect life history evolution? How does human-induced mortality affect stock structure in stock complexes? Improved techniques for stock identification would greatly facilitate research on questions relating to population dynamics. It would be very valuable to have the capability to assign fish caught at sea to their natal drainage. The higher the resolution of this assignment, the more questions become accessible to researchers. Technological developments might include the following: Better genetic techniques for finer-scale stock identification. Development of other techniques, such as otolith microchemistry, for stock identification. Research on the influence of physical, biological, and anthropogenic processes on AYK salmon in the marine environment would be facilitated by knowledge of their movements and distribution while at sea. Important research to provide relevant data is currently under way as part of the Bering-Aleutian Salmon International Survey (BASIS) program. Efforts to increase the value of the information gathered by this effort to accomplish the goals of the SSI might include the following: Development and application of finer-scale stock identification techniques to identify AYK salmon stocks in BASIS samples. Ensuring that tissue samples from salmon sampled by the BASIS program are preserved to allow later fine-scale stock identification. Studies of salmon movement at sea with archival tags and pop-off tags that transmit data via satellite. Experience shows that a multipronged approach to research problems can often be effective. Any research plan should recognize that research into the questions described above could be addressed by at least four types of studies. These four types apply in varying degree to all the frameworks; here we apply them specifically to this one. A more general discussion is in the section on implementation, below.

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon Process-based studies: These investigate how processes operate that affect salmon abundance. For example, how much does predation by salmon sharks increase the mortality of salmon at sea? This kind of study might involve cruises to estimate the abundance, distribution, and diet of salmon sharks (Nagasawa 1998). They are often expensive but can provide important new information. Retrospective studies: These studies use existing data to test hypotheses. For example, how does the abundance of Asian pink salmon affect the growth and survival of salmon from western Alaska? When well done, this kind of study can give excellent value for money (Ruggerone et al. 2003). The use and interpretation of traditional ecological knowledge fits naturally into this category. Such studies might test hypotheses about the mechanisms responsible for low returns of salmon in 1997 and 1998 (Kruse 1998). Theoretical studies, perhaps more accurately defined as studies that describe hypotheses using mathematical models: Such models are often implemented on a computer. An example of this kind of study is the model of foraging and predation risk trade-offs developed by Gross (1987) to explain the evolution of anadromy. These kinds of studies are essential in ecology because hypotheses are often complex—for example, hypotheses concerning the way food webs operate. Models are useful tools in process and retrospective studies as well. Monitoring studies: For example, how does the abundance, age structure, body size, and fecundity of spawning adults entering a river to spawn change from one year to the next? These studies are essential for understanding population dynamics; they are the bread-and-butter work of salmon biologists at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) because they provide the data needed to fit a stock-recruitment curve (Ward 1996). They can also provide the raw data for retrospective studies and useful background information for process-based and modeling studies. The danger is to view these studies as an end in themselves. By themselves, they provide little insight into the processes that influence salmon abundance and can demand a considerable investment of resources. When monitoring is costly, it may be better to focus effort on a few tractable key systems than to attempt extensive coverage. These systems should be selected so the results they provide are applicable to other systems of interest.

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon Framework 2: A Conceptual Framework for Sustainable Salmon, Emphasizing Human Social, Economic, and Political Linkages This conceptual framework emphasizes the human system in which salmon fisheries occur (Figure 4-2). Fishing regulations and escapement objectives result from local applications of state and federal laws. International fishing agreements influence high-seas catch and bycatch of salmon. In-stream management and ocean fisheries achieve management objectives to various degrees, but this fishing undoubtedly influences salmon population dynamics. Feedback from the human community underscores the idea that changes in economic and social organization as well as in regulations influence human effects on salmon. Finally, while it is clear from our site visits and from many published sources that salmon have immense cultural and economic value, these values have not yet been broadly quantified. Some evidence exists that local human communities have felt left out of the processes involved in establishing top-down regulatory policies. This framework results in the following research themes becoming apparent. The research themes correspond to the numbered parts of Figure 4-2. Legal oversight: Specific laws govern some aspects of the determination of total salmon catch and allocation. Because salmon range widely in the ocean, well outside of the U.S. exclusive economic zone, international fishery agreements also contribute to the distribution of salmon among human users. It is not clear to this committee how the variety of state, federal, and international laws are translated into fishing regulations, the setting of escapement objectives, and other socioeconomic factors. One research theme explores the legal context for salmon management and how it is translated into regulations and escapement objectives. Population modeling and implementation: The committee was unable to discern how much, if at all, traditional fishing axioms (for example, if you don’t use the fish, they will disappear; when there are fewer fish, you should catch fewer fish; catch what you can now, because there may be short times ahead) are incorporated into ADF&G’s management strategy, which is roughly to set and meet escapement goals. It also was not obvious how best to effect such an integration.

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon FIGURE 4-2 Diagram of the human system influencing salmon fisheries. Effects of salmon on society: Why do salmon matter to people? This question sits at the heart of the existence of the SSI. It is severely complicated by regional differences in economies, values, demographics, and cost-benefit assessments. Effects of management and society on fishing (effort, fisheries, fish): Fishing and other anthropogenic effects on salmon, both in streams and in the ocean, are a complex function of human activities, often constrained by (or pursued despite) management. There is little quantitative understanding of these relationships. Human impacts on salmon are obvious factors that might be altered to restore salmon. Questions that can be derived from this framework include the following: What do we know about the historical evolution of gear types and catch-per-unit effort? How can we relate human demographic information to the history of salmon abundances? How have people in the region adapted to fluctuations in salmon abundances? How have people and their activities affected spawning beds? How have commercial, subsistence, and recreational fishing affected salmon in rivers and at sea?

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon How have management and policies at local, regional, national, and international scales affected population fluctuations in AYK salmon? How have social and cultural changes affected fishing in the AYK region? What impacts has run-size variability had on ecosystems, human communities, and commerce of salmon? What have been the socioeconomic consequences of a variety of management actions—for example, actions by the Board of Fisheries, commercial buyouts, and fishing cooperatives? How do human activities (harvest, hatcheries, pollution) influence variation in ocean food and feeding conditions of AYK salmon? Were declines in AYK salmon runs in the late 1990s due to large-scale releases of hatchery salmon that attracted more apex predators (for example, salmon sharks attracted to maturing Japanese hatchery chum or Prince William Sound pink salmon) to the oceanic regions where AYK salmon migrate? Framework 3: Resilience of the AYK Salmon-Human System This framework highlights the dynamic nature of the AYK salmon system (human and biophysical) over multiple generations. The idea behind the framework is that ecosystems experience natural variability due to biotic and abiotic shocks (disease epidemics, human activities, and climate shifts) and that ecosystem functioning and services to humans can remain intact in the face of such shocks as long as they are not too great. Resilience is defined as the amount of disturbance a system can absorb and still remain in the same state or socioecological balance (Holling 1973, 1996). The definition also encompasses the ability of a coupled human-ecological system to learn and adapt to change so that the fundamental ecosystem functions and services are not degraded in an irreversible fashion (Carpenter et al. 2001, Berkes et al. 2003, Folke 2003). The concept of resilience is particularly important for complex systems that face significant uncertainty like the AYK salmon system. Ecological research has shown that ecosystems with reduced resilience can still function and generate services (fishing incomes and subsistence) and that they therefore may appear to be functioning normally (Folke 2003). However, when systems faced with diminished resilience (due to excessive human pressure on the resource) are subject to a sudden event (a shift in climate), a critical threshold may be reached. At this threshold, the ecosystem moves into a new, less desirable state with a

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon reduced capacity for life-supporting services for society (Scheffer et al. 2001). In a resilient system, disturbance events can create opportunities for innovation and reorganization of human behavior. In a nonresilient system, even a small shock may threaten the persistence of the system (Folke 2003). A critical question for the AYK SSI is how resilient the AYK salmon system is. The concept of resilience for the AYK salmon system is illustrated in Figure 4-3. In this figure, hypothetical salmon metapopulations1 are shown over a long period, dating back to times when commercial and sport fishing for salmon did not occur in the AYK region, and when commercial fish catch in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska (for example, sockeye salmon, pollock) did not occur and thus did not affect AYK salmon populations via bycatch or intercept fishing. As commercial and sportfishing became more prevalent in the region, greater pressure was placed on salmon metapopulations in the AYK. The hypothesis shown in Figure 4-3 is that human fishing pressure is eroding the resilience of the AYK salmon system, drawing it close to population levels where continued survival is at serious risk (dashed line) for some metapopulations. (An alternative hypothesis is that global warming is creating irreversible damage to the salmon ecosystem that may be independent of the level of fishing pressure and direct human activity in the region. Yet another hypothesis is that current low populations of AYK salmon reflect only a temporary fluctuation rather than a long-term trend.) Three different scenarios are shown in Figure 4-3. The fluctuating lines represent variability in salmon metapopulations under different degrees of human fishing pressure. The smooth lines represent the 5-year moving average (trend) in each fluctuating line. Variability in the metapopulations reflects climate change, disease outbreaks, change in ocean predation, and ecological change in freshwater systems.2 Figure 4-3 (a) represents subsistence fishing with no commercial or sports catch. The subsistence philosophy in many AYK communities 1   The concept of metapopulations is applied to the arrangement of local populations of salmon of a certain species in river systems (Kuskokwim chum or Yukon Chinook) (NRC 1996). A metapopulation is composed of several locally adapted populations that have different spawning grounds in different tributaries of the river system. Genetic diversity is maintained by the straying of fish among different tributaries. A metapopulation thus may contain significant genetic diversity, which is important to its long-run survival. 2   In the figure, the pattern of population variability has been determined by using a random number generator for illustrative purposes.

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon FIGURE 4-3a Hypothetical salmon populations under subsistence conditions only. FIGURE 4-3b Hypothetical salmon populations with limited catches.

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon GEM symposium held each January. The top-down approach would have directors of the aforementioned programs attend an annual meeting to ensure integration among the various projects. This would occur before the annual requests for proposals so that decisions made at the meeting could be integrated into their respective requests for proposal processes, including considering joint funding where appropriate. The final element of the coordination strategy suggests that there be some individuals who sit on more than one scientific and technical committee or science panel, and ensuring that at least a few members of these bodies have knowledge of other relevant programs. Brief descriptions of the potential science programs that might be coordinated with the AYK SSI restoration and research efforts follow. As mentioned previously, the AYK SSI is composed of several Alaska Native organizations as well as others, including ADF&G, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the Fish and Wildlife Service, and that structure should automatically enhance coordination with other programs. The partnerships that led to the formation of the AYK SSI are a good example of the effectiveness of the approach. NPRB An overarching research program is the NPRB (NPRB 2004, NRC 2004b), which has been funded to carry out marine science studies in the North Pacific, Bering Sea, and Arctic Ocean. The work is supported by a federal endowment and should continue indefinitely. A goal is to understand the marine ecosystem and to improve “the ability to manage and protect the healthy, sustainable fish and wildlife populations…and provide long term sustained benefits to local communities.” To carry out its mission, the NPRB has adopted the following supporting goals: improve understanding of North Pacific marine ecosystem dynamics and use of the resources; improve the ability to manage and protect the healthy, sustainable fish and wildlife populations that comprise the ecologically diverse marine ecosystems of the North Pacific and provide long-term, sustained benefits to local communities and the nation; improve the ability to forecast and respond to the effects of changes, through integration of various research activities, including long-term monitoring; foster cooperation with other entities conducting research and management in the North Pacific and work toward common goals for North Pacific marine

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon ecosystems; and support high-quality projects that promise long-term results as well as those with more immediate applicability. The AYK SSI would greatly benefit from establishing a working relationship with the NPRB, which is currently funding ~$1.8 M (projects in 2002 and 2003) of research on salmon in the Bering Sea and has selected the Bering Sea region to focus ecosystem research over the next 5-7 years. An example of an ongoing, relevant NPRB study is that of Hillgruber and Zimmerman (NPRB Project: R0327), who are examining the early marine ecology of chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) in Kuskokwim Bay. The following identifies objectives of this process-oriented study as presented in the semiannual report (Hillgruber et al. 2003). The overall goal is to assess the effects of physical, biological, and environmental factors on the distribution, feeding, condition, and growth of juvenile chum salmon during their estuary residence. Using a bioenergetics-based food web model based on directed sampling for prey, diet composition, growth, size structure, and energy content will help us to understand patterns observed in the feeding, growth, and condition of chum salmon juveniles. Specifically, our objectives include the following: (1) determining the spatial and seasonal distribution of chum salmon juveniles throughout Kuskokwim Bay, (2) assessing the spatial and seasonal patterns of environmental variables, and (3) describing the relationship between juvenile distribution patterns and these variables. Another relevant example of NPRB-funded projects is one entitled Nearshore Circulation in the Bering Sea: Towards Community-Based Oceanographic Research, which was led by Larson King (Nunivak Island Native), and Tom Weingartner and Seth Danielson of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The goal was to determine the feasibility of monitoring nearshore circulation and then conduct operations during outmigration of salmon smolts in Kuskokwim. This project was successful in collecting important observations of coastal currents (King et al. 2004). GEM Program Another planned long-term science effort in this region is the GEM program (EVOS 2004), which is an outgrowth of the science studies of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) program (NRC 2002). GEM has developed a science plan to address ecosystem changes in the northern Gulf of Alaska in the region affected by the oil spill. Its efforts are focused on the northern Gulf of Alaska, which was affected by the 1989

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon EVOS, with particular emphasis on long-term monitoring. Time series for the northern Gulf of Alaska might provide evidence for long-term changes in the Bering Sea ecosystem that is generally downstream. Coordination with data management within this program is suggested also. AOOS An international initiative to make long-term observations of the ocean, Global Ocean Observing System, has prompted the development of a U.S. component that addresses coastal observations of which AOOS is part (AOOS 2004). AOOS has the goal of conducting long-term ocean observations and is currently in the planning stages. It will have data management and public outreach components that could be important to AYK SSI studies. EFOCI EFOCI will undertake long-term monitoring, process studies, and numerical modeling to assess, understand, and forecast the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska climate and ecosystems. Although we understand that climate variability occurs and is reflected in marine populations, we do not know what processes translate physical variability into biological change. Currently, there is no basis for acquiring this knowledge, as no long-term, area-wide ocean research program documents productivity or tracks changes in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska ecosystems. NOAA scientists at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory, and the Alaska Fisheries Science Center will accomplish most of the work. BEST BEST (ARCUS 2004) is likely to be relevant to the efforts to develop a science plan for the AYK region. That study will focus on the influences of biological production as it is transferred into the upper trophic levels. BEST is a component of SEARCH (Study of Environmental Arctic Change) and ESSAS (Ecosystem Studies of Sub-Arctic Seas, which is expected to become a regional program under GLOBEC) and will interact with ASOF (Arctic/Subarctic Ocean Fluxes) and PICES

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon (North Pacific Marine Science Organization). The program goal is to develop an ability to predict the effects of climate change on the ecosystems of the eastern Bering Sea and their ability to support sustainable commercial and subsistence harvests. The overarching question that was developed to focus research is, How do changes in forcing functions affect the shelf ecosystem, including production, community composition, and trophic linkages? Other specific questions developed for and presented in the BEST Science Plan that are directly related to the goal of the AYK SSI program are as follows: Can we develop a predictive modeling capability, and How do changes in the ecosystem affect the quality, quantity, and availability of Bering Sea resources for commercial and subsistence harvests? The BEST Science Plan (2003) acknowledges that the resources of the eastern Bering Sea are critical for the survival and social and economic well-being of people, particularly those living in western Alaska, and that there is a need to know how changes in eastern Bering Sea ecosystems will affect the abundance of salmon runs. Changes in the species composition, abundance, quality, or distribution of these fish and shellfish have major economic and social impacts, particularly in the coastal communities of western Alaska. The plan states (statements in brackets have been added by us for clarity): The ability to foresee how climate change will affect the availability of resources to them could be of great benefit in planning the responses to change. Whether it is the future availability of salmon to villagers on the Yukon/Kuskokwim Rivers [rivers flowing into Norton Sound], or the abundance of pollock available for commercial harvest [which affects local people through the community development quotas], knowledge of potential change in resource availability can improve planning decisions. An important goal of the BEST Program must be to contribute to our ability to manage and sustain the marine resources of the eastern Bering Sea, and to provide managers and planners with the knowledge of ecosystem response to climate change. BASIS The North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) has developed a plan to establish a program for long-term, large-scale ecosystem research on salmon in the Bering Sea called BASIS. Member

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon countries are the United States, Canada, Japan, and Russia. The plan calls for seasonal (spring, summer, fall, winter) synoptic cruises of 1 month duration per year for 5 years. Their plans are outlined in the NPAFC Science Plan 2001-2005. The focus of BASIS is on carrying capacity and ecology of resources. Scientific issues that provide necessary direction to the research include (but are not limited to) the following: Seasonal-specific migration patterns of salmon and their relation to the Bering Sea ecosystem. Key biological, climatic, and oceanic factors affecting long-term changes in Bering Sea food production and salmon growth rates. Similarities in production trends between salmon populations in the Bering Sea and common factors associated with their trends in survival. Overall limit or carrying capacity of the Bering Sea ecosystem to produce salmon. NPAFC member countries—Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States—carry out the research. BASIS is in its third year of operation with a focus on field sampling covering the entire Bering Sea (Figure 4-4). The BASIS research area is complementary to that of AYK SSI, and it will be useful for the AYK SSI to partner with BASIS. An example of an ongoing BASIS research program is the Ocean Carrying Capacity (OCC) Program, Auke Bay Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center/NMFS, that has been conducting surveys of juvenile salmon on the eastern Bering Sea shelf since 1999. Initially, the focus of the Bering Sea work was to monitor the effects of climate on growth, migration, and distribution of juvenile Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. In 2002, the work was expanded to include investigations of AYK juvenile salmon in coastal waters of the eastern Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean through Kotzebue Sound as well as to offshore stations within the NPAFC/BASIS study area. Research activities specific to food and nutrition of AYK salmon include the following: (1) studies on diet overlap and prey selectivity among salmon and other fishes; (2) describing the trophic dynamics of juvenile salmon and their predators in coastal waters; (3) developing bioenergetic models of juvenile salmon growth; (4) identifying key biological, climatic, and oceanic factors affecting long-term changes in Bering Sea food production and salmon growth rates;

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon FIGURE 4-4 Map showing sampling stations in the Bering Sea. Dots show stations in U.S. waters, flags show stations in international waters, and pluses show stations in Russian waters. Source: NPAFC 2001. and (5) evaluating the limit or carrying capacity of the Bering Sea to produce salmon and the effect of hatchery salmon on Bering Sea food supplies (principal investigators: Jack Helle, Ed Farley, and Jim Murphy, Auke Bay Laboratory, NMFS, Juneau, Alaska) (ABL 2004). NS SSI In response to sharp declines in Norton Sound salmon harvests, a Research and Restoration Plan for Norton Sound Sustainable Salmon Initiative (NS SSI) was drafted in 2002 to protect the wild salmon resources and habitats of Norton Sound, to support effective management of salmon in the region, to garner public support and involvement for sustained use and protection of salmon resources, and to study the potential use of artificial means to preserve salmon stocks. The overarching questions are, What controls the abundance of salmon in Norton Sound, and what can we (they) do about it? This plan could serve as a sub regional plan for the AYK SSI. An example of a relevant, ongoing research program is Ecology of Juvenile Chum Salmon from Norton Sound: The Role of Estuarine Transition Zones and Implications for the Early Marine Life Stage, which involves field sampling (2003-2006) to compare stomach contents (rela-

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon tive fullness and prey) of chum salmon fry entering and leaving estuaries and in the nearshore marine waters of Norton Sound (principal investigators: S. Kinneen, Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation; M. Nemeth and B. Haley, LGL Alaska Research Associates, Inc., Anchorage; W. Griffiths, LGL Limited, Sidney, British Columbia) (NSEDC 2003) (funded by the federal Fishery Disaster Relief Program for Norton Sound). Additionally, since 1991, the High Seas Salmon Research Program, University of Washington, has conducted studies on the food habits, bioenergetics, and feeding ecology of immature and maturing salmon in the central North Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, and Gulf of Alaska. Ongoing analyses of salmon food habit data time series with respect to AYK salmon are funded in part by the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association (co-investigators: K. Myers, N. Davis, R. Walker, and J. Armstrong, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS), University of Washington, Seattle; funded by NOAA) (SAFS 2004). JTC Plan There is a U.S.-Canadian JTC Plan to “help management meet and protect escapements and maximize harvest.” This work focuses on salmon projects on both the Canadian and the Alaskan portions of the Yukon River. The six-page U.S. and Canada Yukon River JTC Plan was completed in late 2003 after a process lasting more than a year. It includes some background, a mission statement, and four goals with underlying objectives and research issues. The background suggests that optimal or maximal fishing yields are achievable. The mission statement emphasizes the roles of habitat and population dynamics for sustainable fishing and explicitly acknowledges the intersection of local, traditional, and scientific knowledge. The plan’s four goals are to (1) assess and achieve fishery management objectives; (2) assess, conserve, and restore salmon habitats; (3) build and maintain public support of, and meaningful participation in, salmon resource management; and (4) improve understanding of salmon biology and ecology. According to the document we reviewed, specific research projects have been suggested or are now being carried out to address issues identified by the plan (but no research project can appear in more than three places!), but we did not see this distribution of projects.

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon The JTC plan does an unusually good job of encouraging public science; after all, it is one of the four goals. It suffers from the lack of a conceptual framework about how the system works, which makes it difficult to prioritize research to address the biggest uncertainties or to assess the magnitude of what are believed to be strong linkages. Apparently, research priorities are developed by gathering large groups of people together in workshops and essentially voting. It would be interesting to know if different priorities emerged if participants first had to discuss and agree on a conceptual framework. WWF WWF has developed the program Coastal Communities for Science: A Bering Sea Partnership. This offers the AYK SSI an opportunity to learn from and/or coordinate efforts with an ongoing program to develop specific elements for education, outreach, and community involvement activities. The WWF Program goals are to increase access of Alaska Native communities to Bering Sea research by creating opportunities for their participation in research, to increase the number of youth interested in and excited about science, and to inspire confidence within the future leaders of the Alaska Native Bering Sea coastal communities to consider science as a possible career direction and to feel comfortable communicating to scientists, posing questions, and even participating in the process of answering questions that are important to coastal communities. The target audience of the WWF program is Alaska Native coastal communities (Mekoryuk, Hooper Bay/Paimiut, Unalakleet, and the Pribilof Island communities of St. George and St. Paul), with a particular emphasis on community leaders, educators, and youth. In consultation with community educators and participating scientists, WWF will coordinate community-scientific teams’ efforts to conduct biotic surveys around participating communities. The focuses of these studies are fish, flora, and biodiversity/habitat surveys, topics that allow for practicable and affordable projects to be undertaken with youth participation. These topics also offer opportunities for skill building in other academic areas, particularly mathematics but also in art (through the design of exhibits) and language (communication of results through web sites, written reports, displays, and oral presentations at community meetings and conferences).

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon FRMP The Fisheries Resource Monitoring Program (FRMP) was begun in 2000, after federal jurisdiction over subsistence fishing in Alaska was expanded to include about 60 percent of Alaska’s freshwaters. The FRMP mission is to identify and provide information needed to sustain subsistence fisheries on federal lands for rural Alaskans through a multidisciplinary, collaborative program. A competitive process combining scientific and local review is used to select a package of projects each year which must be approved by a Federal Subsistence Board representing five agencies. Recent enhancements to the FRMP include the Partners for Fisheries Monitoring Program (Partners) and a Regional Strategic Planning Initiative (Strategic Planning). Partners develops capability and expertise in rural organizations by funding full-time, year-round fishery biologists and anthropologists, as well as summer student interns. These positions assist in planning and conducting FRMP projects; performing community outreach, education, and training; and coordinating subsistence fisheries monitoring activities. Strategic Planning ensures funded projects address the most important FRMP information needs. This is being accomplished through facilitated workshops attended by regional managers, scientists, Regional Advisory Council members, and stakeholders who develop goals, objectives, and information needs for Federal subsistence fisheries, identify knowledge gaps, and prioritize information needs. Since its inception, the FRMP has funded nearly 170 projects, at a cost of $30 million, which provide more than 50% of total fisheries monitoring efforts in some regions. These projects provide information on fish populations, including species previously overlooked due to limited commercial and recreational importance; improve subsistence harvest documentation by implementing projects recommended by a statewide evaluation of existing efforts; and gather traditional knowledge from rural residents for use in management. Three databases have been developed to make information accessible to agencies and the public. Stakeholders have been integrated into subsistence fishery management through consultations, collaborations, and capacity building. By providing sound scientific data, building capacity in rural organizations, forging partnerships, and promoting local involvement, the FRMP has assisted federal and state agencies to manage fisheries resources and provide for subsistence uses.

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon NOAA’s Arctic Program NOAA’s Arctic Program is currently funding research in the Bering Sea. The focus is on climate change and its various impacts throughout the Arctic. The Arctic Theme Page (NOAA 2004) provides access to widely distributed Arctic data and information. One project that is funded by NOAA’s Arctic Program provides a natural candidate for co-operative research with AYK SSI. The Ecosystem Change in the Northern Bering Sea project investigates the hypothesis that recent anomalous spring and summer productivity on the northern Bering Sea shelf relates to decadal-scale atmospheric/sea-ice/oceanic processes, which reflect regime-induced climate changes in the western Arctic. Recent work (Grebmeier and Dunton 2000, Cooper et al. 2002) shows that there are hot spots of biological productivity southwest of Saint Lawrence Island and that this productivity has been decreasing over the past decade. These results underscore the timeliness of increased focus on the ecosystem of the northern Bering Sea. A program has been defined to conduct process studies of the northern biological hot spots; establish a northwestern Bering Sea biophysical oceanographic mooring to document ongoing changes similar to the multiyear FOCI mooring, M2, on the southeastern Bering Sea shelf; and undertake a retrospective analysis of all northern Bering Sea data to put future changes into context and to provide an objective measure for change detection. Long time series will play a critical role in assessing the ecosystem changes in the Bering Sea and the North Pacific. While the AYK SSI eventually should be contributing to these data sets with their own observations, they can take advantage of the GEM-sponsored GAK1 hydrographic time series near Seward in the Gulf of Alaska and the M2 biophysical mooring on the southeastern Bering Sea continental shelf that is sponsored by NPRB. Additional long time series atmospheric data are available from the National Weather Service’s National Climate Center (NCC), while some stream flows are available from the U.S. Geological Survey archives. In addition to the previously listed programs, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) includes long-term monitoring for the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean, and the Arctic Research Initiative (ARI) supports work in the Bering Sea including field work. There is also a continuing program that is studying fluctuations in the populations of Steller sea lions in the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands, which could produce information relevant to assessing long-term changes in the

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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon marine ecosystem in those regions and the North Pacific. It also will be important to coordinate with NOAA studies of the Bering Sea eco systems and North Pacific (PMEL 2004a,b) and NOAA fisheries studies (AFSC 2004). In summary, the AYK SSI will be a subset of these larger programs and should take advantage of these ongoing studies. In addition, PICES (2004) serves to coordinate and promote exchanges of information among the nations bordering the North Pacific. Data Management There is a great challenge to assemble, integrate, and make available the data that will be necessary and useful for scientific investigations of the AYK salmon. The data will range from estimates of human and salmon populations to deep ocean temperatures and salinities. Their geographic extent will range from freshwater environments to the entire Bering Sea and North Pacific. Fortunately, other data management groups such as the Data Management and Communications System of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS 2001) are dealing with similar data management issues. They have addressed the problems of data submission, quality control, long-term stability, data exchanges, data archiving, and access and delivery of real time data to resource managers. Progress has been made at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) on assembling the North Pacific Ecosystem Metadatabase (PMEL 2004b). This provides a catalogue of environmental data for the Bering Sea and the North Pacific and links to the custodians of those data sets. It will serve as an excellent source for national and international data for the AYK region.