A gaggle of researchers is hoping that information collected from the Gulf of Alaska’s sea flooring will shed new mild on the consequences of backside trawling.
Scientists from the conservation group Oceana, which relies in Juneau, spent eight days aboard a analysis vessel circumnavigating the Kodiak archipelago late Could. Jon Warrenchuck is a senior scientist and fisheries marketing campaign supervisor with Oceana.
“The Gulf of Alaska is a very special place and a very productive ecosystem,” Warrenchuck mentioned. “Our timing of our survey here in the spring means we saw just an abundance of life, from the phytoplankton to the fish to the birds feeding at the surface.”
The main target of the journey, although, was to doc life on the very backside of the ocean to raised perceive the impacts of economic trawling, Warrenchuck mentioned.
The group surveyed 23 areas throughout the journey. Warrenchuck mentioned they despatched cameras and remotely operated autos right down to depths greater than a thousand toes deep at some websites, and photographed areas of the seafloor that had by no means been seen earlier than.
“We chose sites to explore that were both open and closed to bottom trawling and we did see differences between those types of sites,” Warrenchuck mentioned.
Researchers documented coral gardens and groves of sea whips, however the group additionally noticed proof of heavy harm to the ocean flooring, together with areas of crushed coral the place industrial trawling is permitted. Warrenchuck mentioned they don’t know what these areas of the ocean flooring seemed like earlier than trawlers arrived. However Oceana scientists plan to submit their observations to the North Pacific Fisheries Administration Council and the Nationwide Marine Fisheries Service — they’re within the midst of an important fish habitat administration evaluation course of that’s accomplished each 5 years for the realm.
Warrenchuck hopes the images and movies from the waters off Kodiak will assist make the case to maintain trawlers out of some areas of the ocean.
“So much of the ocean has remained unexplored that any information we gather on seafloor habitat characterization, locations of sensitive habitat that will only help us make better fishery management decisions going forward,” he mentioned.
The important fish habitat abstract report is slated to come back out in October, in accordance with the North Pacific Fishery Administration Council’s web site.