Anchorage 5/09/17, Hotel Captain Cook
It’s the Wakefield Symposium, once the mecca for Alaska commercial fisheries researchers, but now it has morphed. These rather specialized scientific conferences have been going on since 1982 here, and it was at one of the early ones where I asked one of the dumb questions I am so well known for “What’s this recruitment thing anyway? Everybody speaks of it in reverential terms as if it were the Holy Grail or something.” “Well, it is. Recruitment means it’s a fish that is big enough to catch. It has recruited into the fishery.” “Oh.”
Back in those days, all the science at the Wakefield was aimed at figuring out how to get more catchable fish. But things are different now. At this year’s conference, we are looking at such things as why there were hardly any Pollock larvae in the Gulf of Alaska in 2015, or why Chinook Salmon are not as big as they used to be. We’re not getting too many answers. And meanwhile, the whole sequence of presentations has been programmed to inform an ecosystem management policy enacted by NOAA, that may or may not escape the notice of the Trump Commerce department.
The ecosystem emphasis has led to some really interesting invited speakers from Germany, Russia and elsewhere. Tuesday morning we heard from Hans-Otto Portner, one of the IPCC authors, and Wednesday it will be Christian Mollmann of the University of Hamburg about Baltic Sea regime shifts.
More coming, but at this point I just want to share a really neat visualization tool that was developed by Steve Barbeaux at the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fishery Science Center that looks at the size of species of fish and where they were found over time. This is purely based on size, not necessarily biomass, but it is a three dimensional thing that some may enjoy playing with to pick out how smaller fish used to use the “cold pool” which may no longer exist on the Bering Sea shelf.