The Council received several excellent presentations at this meeting on ongoing climate research and initiatives, and provided recommendations and feedback. In staff tasking, the Council encouraged continued efforts with respect to these climate research initiatives, but asked that they specifically link research effort outcomes to how they would inform the Council process and management actions, including specific Council tools such as the BS Fishery Ecosystem Plan Climate Change Taskforce work, and use of ecosystem considerations in the harvest specifications process. The Council also emphasized the importance of identifying synergies with other agencies working on similar issues, and the need for consistent Federal funding for such initiatives without reprogramming funding from existing programs. The Council supported the SSC comments on the various reports, and recommended they be incorporated into future iterations.
The following are the various presentations that the Council received during the course of the meeting:
- The director of the NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) updated the Council on 2021 and 2022 fish and ecosystem surveys, and discussed how the various initiatives underway work together to develop climate-informed science for management across different spatial and temporal scales.
- NOAA’s Climate Fisheries Initiative is a cross-NOAA effort which, when combined with existing programs, will enable the sustained operational ocean prediction and decision support system needed to reduce negative impacts and increase resilience of ecosystems and coastal communities.
- AFSC staff also gave presentations on three Regional Action Plans on climate, for the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Arctic. Each of the RAPs takes a regional approach to the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy, which specifies goals and objectives for producing, delivering, and using climate-related information needed to reduce impacts and increase resilience with changing climate and ocean conditions. The RAPs focus on building regional capacity, partners, products, and services tailored to each specific region, and identify current and new climate research activities over the time period of the RAPs, as well as evaluating remaining key scientific gaps for each region.
- The GOA CLIM project is just beginning its work, and will examine how individuals, families, and communities may adapt to climate variability and associated changes in fisheries and marine ecosystems. It will also identify the factors underlying adaptation choices, and tradeoffs associated with those adaptations. Predicted fleet responses and adaptations will be coupled with regional economic models to understand potential economic impacts on fishing communities. In turn, fleet behavior will feed into biological models to understand changes in harvest patterns and species composition of catch.
- The ACLIM project began several years ago, and is now in its second phase, focusing on development of alternative “climate-ready” management strategies to help them understand management objective tradeoffs, and how to adapt to changing conditions so North Pacific marine resources remain sustainable and fisheries and communities are as resilient as possible. At this meeting, the lead investigators solicited input from the Council and stakeholders on the management scenarios and harvest control rules that will be modeled under projected climate change scenarios. In addition to the overall request that linkages between ACLIM and the Council’s Climate Change Taskforce are clearly identified, the Council also expressed their interest in the potential for ACLIM to use the current situation with declining crab stocks as a test case for adaptive climate tools, especially as snow crab is a focus species for the second phase of ACLIM.
As the ACLIM integrated modeling system advances, the AFSC will work to ensure that there are consistent formal and informal opportunities for public input. The project leads noted that they are planning an April 2022 workshop (more details available in early 2022). In the meantime, ACLIM has created a number of new working groups that are focused on diverse climate-related activities and are designed to help ensure that the work of ACLIM is as effectively coordinated as possible with initiatives at AFSC and beyond. These groups will regularly communicate their activities to the Council’s Climate Change Taskforce and the public and request input from the public and diverse Council bodies. The current working groups are:
- Ensemble modeling
- Climate downscaling and ocean modeling
- Spatial Modeling
- Social, economic, and fishery modeling
- Climate enhanced Stock Assessment Models and HCRs
- Food web models
- Ecophysiology, energetics, IBMs, & early life history working
- Marine mammals
- Indicators for ESRs and ESP
- Post-docs / students across ACLIM and GOA-CLIM
- PI Communication coordination: management, on ramps to Council and international coordination and communication.