New research provides a glimpse into the future to help Arctic fishing communities prepare for change.
The Pacific Arctic is undergoing a rapid transformation. As temperatures rise and sea ice melts, some species will do better than others. A new study suggests that pink salmon may be one of those species.
“Our results suggest that warming is both increasing freshwater habitat and improving early marine survival of pink salmon in the northern Bering Sea,” said Ed Farley, NOAA Fisheries biologist at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, who led the study.
The study provides insight into the response of pink salmon to climate change. The findings are valuable information for commercial and subsistence fisheries, and fishing communities, preparing for future changes.
“Subsistence harvesters would like to know what foods may be available to them now and into the future,” Farley said.
“The importance of fish in Arctic subsistence economies cannot be overstated; they are some of the most commonly eaten foods,” said coauthor Todd Sformo, biologist at the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management.
“In the past on the North Slope, salmon have been used for dog food and even considered nuisance fish when interfering with preferred species such as aanaakliq or broad whitefish in the inland rivers. Recently, there seems to be a change both qualitatively and quantitatively in the use of salmon as a main dish and for smoking.
“Participating in this study allowed me to present a subsistence perspective, learn how fellow researchers measure production dynamics, and better understand how pink salmon are responding to climate warming in the northern Bering Sea. While this research is further south than the waters surrounding the North Slope, it is a beginning of our attempt to account for potential change in subsistence fishing.”