A standing room-only crowd gathered at a session called “What is Going On in the North Pacific?” as part of Pacific Marine Expo, the annual fisheries trade show in Seattle, this week. In the wake of this year’s collapse of Bering Sea crab populations and subsequent closure of both Bristol Bay red king crab and snow crab fisheries, over 100 fishermen came to learn more about what happened and what to do about it.
Scott Goodman from Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation discussed a suite of factors thought to contribute to the sudden snow crab failure, including climate change in the form of ocean warming. Jamie Goen from Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers presented the dire cost to the fleet and associated maritime businesses and their pursuit of more flexibility in fisheries management to quickly respond to climate challenges of the future. Sarah Schumann, commercial fisherman and coordinator of the Fisheries Friendly Climate Action campaign, focused on the urgent need to address the root cause of climate change through steep reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. She acknowledged dramatic policies and progress underway to build renewable energy systems, and offered pathways for fishermen to advocate for clean energy solutions that are compatible with fisheries and ocean ecosystems. Linda Behnken from Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association talked about their initiatives to explore alternative fuels for fishing vessels and offered support for adopting national policy that puts a price on carbon emissions as a way to accelerate change away from fossil fuels.
Thank you to Jessica Cross, NOAA oceanographer and a leading ocean acidification researcher, for moderating the panel. As a co-sponsor of this session, Alaska Ocean Acidification Network anticipates more opportunities to convene similar discussions about solutions to carbon emissions — the shared root cause of climate change and ocean acidification. For more on the solutions to climate issues facing Alaska’s fisheries, check out The Future Ocean Podcast.