From: NOAA
Published September 11, 2017 08:14 AM

Fishing in the Arctic

As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the range and distribution of at least some fish stocks found in places like the Bering Sea will likely extend northward. That could bring some big changes to the region. More than 60 percent of all seafood caught in the United States comes from the waters off Alaska and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.

As previously ice-covered areas of the Arctic become seasonally ice-free, there will be pressure to expand US fishing north of the Bering Strait. That can’t happen under the Arctic Management Plan, established in 2009, which prohibits commercial fishing until scientists and fisheries managers understand what’s going on with the ecosystem.

A number of scientists on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy research cruise I’m on are studying many aspects of the environment that could impact potential fishing in the Arctic. Thousands of water samples are being collected in order to measure the amount of nutrients making their way up from the Pacific Ocean into the Arctic. Like fertilizer for a garden, these nutrients allow plankton, or tiny ocean plants, to grow, forming the base of the Arctic food web.  

 

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Photo via NOAA

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