David Finnoff, University of Wyoming
Alaska is expected to experience ocean acidification faster than any other United States coastal waters, primarily due to its colder water which absorbs more carbon dioxide than warmer waters. With seafood industry job incomes over $1.5 billion annually and a communities that rely on healthy oceans for subsistence, nutrition, and culture, increased ocean acidification is expected to have significant implications. Research on the potential impact to salmon has emerged as one of the top priorities, identified during a 2016 statewide workshop and stakeholder survey. Despite the economic importance of salmon, little research has been done on the effects of ocean acidification on salmon and the fishing industry and communities that depends on salmon. Acidification has been shown to impair coho salmon’s ability to smell and detect their prey. It has also been shown to reduce pink salmon growth rates. In addition, future ocean acidification is expected to affect salmon prey species, which is expected to affect Pacific salmon survival, abundance and productivity. This project will investigate the implication of ocean acidification thresholds and major ecosystem shifts in the Gulf of Alaska on salmon. Integrated human-ecological models will be developed to simulate management scenarios to assess the benefits of pre-emptive adaptation planning and policy making. The information from modeling these scenarios will help create decision tools for salmon managers.