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West Coast Fisheries
Oceanographic and habitat conditions significantly affect, and can even govern, the productivity of Northwest salmonids and groundfish. This research program focuses on the effects of ocean variability, habitat and human activities (including, in the case of groundfish, fishing patterns and regulations) on distributions, health and marine survival of salmonids and groundfish. Fishers have known for generations that specific habitat features favor high abundances of unique marine resources and that fish stocks respond clearly and sometimes suddenly to shifts or fluctuations in climate or fishing patterns.
Thus, it is critical that fishery scientists and oceanographers determine which physical and biological processes influence fish distributions, growth and survival, so that when the ocean enters a different climate state, or fishing practices change, or natural watershed conditions are restored, scientists are able to state to what degree any factor is responsible for shifts in growth and survival or possibly why certain species and stocks are most affected. Projects in the research program are funded by NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Bonneville Power Administration, and NSF.
Research in marine ecosystems and habitat includes the study of marine lipids. Lipids are important biochemical components of marine food webs and can elucidate predator-prey relationships, improve food sources for aquaculture, and facilitate an understanding of larger scale oceanographic processes. These combined approaches further our understanding of how climate change and oceanographic processes at lower trophic levels may affect food quality and condition of commercially important fish and invertebrates.
June 20, 2012: Summer is here. Our researchers are at sea conducting oceanographic surveys to answer questions on the ecological effects of the Columbia Plume on our fisheries. See updates here.