Harvesters sign up to report on changes in fisheries, ocean conditions

Fishing vessels docked in Cordova Harbor. (Jan. 2, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith

Commercial harvesters are pitching in to provide their observations on ecological changes in fisheries and ocean conditions, to help pave the way for climate ready fisheries of the future through Skipper Science, a project of a tribal government in the Aleutians and SalmonState.

In a report released on Tuesday, Nov. 30 by the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island tribal government and SalmonState’s Salmon Habitat Information Program notes that since the program began this summer it has been endorsed by 19 Alaska-based fisheries trade organizations and that 1,697 fishermen have offered their opinions on climate change via telephone interviews.

The program provides a smartphone app that allows fishermen to log observations in real time from the fishing grounds.

Given this summer’s results, it’s clear fishermen are up for the work of using technology to contribute their observations and knowledge to the data set, said Lauren Divine, director of the ecosystem conservation office at the tribal government.

“We were blown away by the amount of organizations and associations willing to endorse and support this project,” said Lindsey Bloom, manager of the Salmon Habitat Information Program.

The 14 sponsors of the program include Cordova District Fishermen United, Copper River Seafood Marketing Association, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, the Alaska Marine Conservation Council , Central Bering sea Fishermen’s Association and the Sitka Conservation Society.