The Alaska Fish and Game Commission’s decision to ban commercial fishing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and adjacent national parks has raised concerns that some people are fishing for nothing.
Alaska’s wild-caught fish and shellfish stocks are shrinking and a new study finds that people in the state are catching more fish than they ever have before.
The study, released Thursday, comes amid a flurry of news coverage of a new report on climate change and fishing by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
The report, called The Future of Alaska, was conducted by researchers at the University and Pew who are also members of the Pew Environment Project.
It found that while the climate has warmed, Alaska’s fish and game populations have not.
“Climate change is a major threat to wild fish stocks in Alaska and beyond,” the report said.
“And it will be a significant challenge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies, as they seek to address a growing problem.”
The Pew report found that Alaska’s overall fisheries and shellfishes are declining at a rate of around 0.5% annually.
But the researchers found that “the rate of decline has increased dramatically since 2008.”
The decline in Alaska’s fisheries and fish populations is a consequence of the global warming caused by human activities, the Pew researchers said.
The study found that climate change has increased the risk of severe weather events like the Alaska winter storms that are already hitting the U of A and the Northeast.
The Arctic National Marine Sanctuary was created in the late 1970s to protect Arctic waters from the effects of climate and sea-level rise.
It’s the only protected area of the Arctic, and is home to more than 300 species of sea creatures.
The researchers found “the loss of Arctic fisheries and sea ice in Alaska will result in a decline of between 10% and 30% in the number of fish and crustaceans, with no discernible impacts on sea otters, seals, or walruses.”
While the scientists believe the climate is warming, they say they are not certain that the impact will be “greater” than the effects seen in other parts of the world, like Europe and the Mediterranean Sea.
They note that the United States is also warming, and there are several countries in Europe that are experiencing an increase in sea-ice.