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Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon
modest amount of money available, such coordination is essential, as are partnerships.
The committee has not explicitly considered research into social and economic matters for their own sake. That is, the committee has considered social and economic research that is directly tied to the sustainability of salmon runs, but not if it is tied mainly to the sustainability of the communities in the region. The committee interpreted its charge as guiding it in that manner.
This report has described a large number of research themes and questions. Those questions all have scientific interest and all have some potential to shed light on the relationship between human and environmental factors and fluctuations in runs of AYK salmon. However, if results that are useful to management are required in a reasonable amount of time, then prioritization is required. The committee suggests the following approaches to prioritizing research funding. We assume that the ultimate goal of the AYK SSI is management, that is, helping to ensure that salmon runs can be exploited sustainably, and our suggestions for research prioritization are made in that context. The committee judges that focusing the research effort on the topics below would be cost-effective and productive.
The greatest research need appears to be better information on the numbers and distribution in space and time of the various species and stocks of AYK salmon. We need to know more about population sizes and productivity (how many fish there are) and more about the genetic makeup of species and populations. The latter information is a prerequisite for assessing the interaction of human and environmental factors with salmon populations, because different salmon populations have different growth rates, fecundity, productivity, and in general can respond differently to those factors. Better assessments are needed of the numbers of salmon of the five species originating in the various drainages at all life stages and in all the environments they inhabit. Without analyses of numbers and of genetic makeup, analyzing the effects of fishing, including fishing on mixed stocks, is not possible. This research theme is