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Evaluating the impact of climate and demographic variation on future prospects for fish stocks: An Application for northern rock sole in Alaska

Citation: André E. Punt, Michael G. Dalton, Wei Cheng, Albert J. Hermann, Kirstin K. Holsman, Thomas P. Hurst, James N. Ianelli, Kelly A. Kearney, Carey R. McGilliard, Darren J. Pilcher, Matthieu Véron, Evaluating the impact of climate and demographic variation on future prospects for fish stocks: An application for northern rock sole in Alaska, Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, Volumes 189–190, 2021, 104951, ISSN 0967-0645,

Climate-enhanced stock assessment models represent potentially vital tools for managing living marine resources under climate change. We present a climate-enhanced stock assessment where environmental variables are integrated within a population dynamics model assessment of biomass, fishing mortality and recruitment that also accounts for process error in demographic parameters. Probability distributions for the impact of the associated environmental factors on recruitment and growth can either be obtained from Bayesian analyses that involve fitting the population dynamics model to the available data or from auxiliary analyses. The results of the assessment form the basis for the calculation of biological and economic target and limit reference points, and projections under alternative harvest strategies. The approach is applied to northern rock sole (Lepidopsetta polyxystra), an important component of the flatfish fisheries in the Eastern Bering Sea. The assessment involves fitting to data on catches, a survey index of abundance, fishery and survey age-compositions and survey weight-at-age, with the relationship between recruitment and cold pool extent and that between growth increment in weight and temperature integrated into the assessment. The projections also allow for an impact of ocean pH on expected recruitment based on auxiliary analyses. Several alternative models are explored to assess the consequences of different ways to model environmental impacts on population demography. The estimates of historical biomass, recruitment and fishing mortality for northern rock sole are not markedly impacted by including climate and environmental factors, but estimates of target and limit reference points are sensitive to whether and how environmental variables are included in stock assessments and projections.

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The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) works to prepare society to adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification and conserve marine ecosystems as acidification occurs. Learn more about the human connections and adaptation strategies from these efforts.

Adaptation approaches fostered by the OAP include:


Using models and research to understand the sensitivity of organisms and ecosystems to ocean acidification to make predictions about the future, allowing communities and industries to prepare


Using these models and predictions as tools to facilitate management strategies that will protect marine resources and communities from future changes


Developing innovative tools to help monitor ocean acidification and mitigate changing ocean chemistry locally


On the Road

Drive fuel-efficient vehicles or choose public transportation. Choose your bike or walk! Don't sit idle for more than 30 seconds. Keep your tires properly inflated.

With your Food Choices

Eat local- this helps cut down on production and transport! Reduce your meat and dairy. Compost to avoid food waste ending up in the landfill

With your Food Choices

Make energy-efficient choices for your appliances and lighting. Heat and cool efficiently! Change your air filters and program your thermostat, seal and insulate your home, and support clean energy sources

By Reducing Coastal Acidification

Reduce your use of fertilizers, Improve sewage treatment and run off, and Protect and restore coastal habitats

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You've taken the first step to learn more about ocean acidification - why not spread this knowledge to your community?

Every community has their unique culture, economy and ecology and what’s at stake from ocean acidification may be different depending on where you live.  As a community member, you can take a larger role in educating the public about ocean acidification. Creating awareness is the first step to taking action.  As communities gain traction, neighboring regions that share marine resources can build larger coalitions to address ocean acidification.  Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Work with informal educators, such as aquarium outreach programs and local non-profits, to teach the public about ocean acidification. Visit our Education & Outreach page to find the newest tools!
  2. Participate in habitat restoration efforts to restore habitats that help mitigate the effects of coastal acidification
  3. Facilitate conversations with local businesses that might be affected by ocean acidification, building a plan for the future.
  4. Partner with local community efforts to mitigate the driver behind ocean acidification  – excess CO2 – such as community supported agriculture, bike & car shares and other public transportation options.
  5. Contact your regional Coastal Acidification Network (CAN) to learn how OA is affecting your region and more ideas about how you can get involved in your community
       More for Taking Community Action