Research seeks links between warming, fishing patterns

January 14, 2010 

For the first time, the Federal Subsistence Board has approved research projects looking for links between global warming and fishing patterns in three regions of the state, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

The projects will last three to four years and cost a total of $930,000, according to the Office of Subsistence Management.

Researchers will talk to village households about their traditional harvests, historical patterns and health of the fish -- and any changes they've noticed over time, said Larry Buklis, fisheries division chief.

The research is part of a monitoring plan that includes 41 projects approved by the board Tuesday in Anchorage. Buklis said this is the first time the board has specifically targeted climate change and what it means for subsistence fishing in Alaska.

"That's a new dimension that's current and relevant," Buklis said.

Studies are planned in Bering Strait villages such as Shishmaref and Wales, in Northwest Alaska and along the Yukon River. The data can be used to manage subsistence fishing, as well as track changes in the environment over time, Buklis said.

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