For the past two years the Alaska Marine Science Symposium, the annual late January event in Anchorage that attracts seafood harvesters, processors and scientists from all over the world, has been going greener, with detailed conference events posted online.
This year’s event, set for Jan. 26-28, will be the first time the gathering has gone totally virtual, as a health and safety precaution in the midst of a novel coronavirus pandemic. Billed as the state’s premier marine research conference, AMSS provides a forum for researchers to present their work on a variety of studies related to marine ecosystems and fisheries in the Arctic Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska.
Research topics may range from Ocean physics, fishes and invertebrates, seabirds and marine mammals to local traditional knowledge. For the 2021 symposium, the North Pacific Research Board, based in Anchorage and a leading sponsor, has received over 200 abstracts, almost half of which were oral presentations.
Spokespersons for the NPRB say they were overwhelmed by the response from the scientific community and appreciate the continuing interest of contributors in showcasing important research occurring off of Alaska shores. The overall agenda for the 2021 is still being finalized, including names of keynote speakers.
Due to the interactive nature of the January event, the symposium for 2021 will be opening afternoon sessions to panel discussions, with time to be reserved all three afternoons of the conference for one or two panel discussions. The goals of these panels will be to provide different perspectives on tough questions and better describe how Alaska marine science relates to the bigger picture.
Potential topics for this year’s panels include coastal resiliency, ocean noise, marine debris in a changing Arctic, perspectives on changing Bering Sea ecosystem, socioeconomic costs and opportunities of shifting fish and marine mammal populations in Alaskan waters, the future of Arctic research in and around local communities post-COVID and the economics of climate change as they relate to fisheries, subsistence, tourism and shipping.
Registration for the 2021 gathering is free and may be completed at alaskamarinescience.org/2021agenda.