Vol. 37, No. 4, April 2017

Alaska Delegation Backs Sea Grant

facts on a page

Alaska Sea Grant appreciates the continued support from the Alaska congressional delegation, Sen. Dan Sullivan, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Rep. Don Young.

President Trump has proposed a budget that would eliminate funding for Sea Grant in the current fiscal year and in fiscal year 2018, which begins October 1.

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution earlier this month in support of continued funding for the National Sea Grant College Program.

Representative Don Young added his name, along with 84 other members of the House, to a letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging continued bipartisan support for National Sea Grant. Senator Sullivan and Congressman Young are both sponsoring reauthorization of the National Sea Grant program.

Thanks to Alaska Sea Grant partners for dozens of support letters. It’s not too late to contact the Alaska congressional delegation and let them know your thoughts about Alaska Sea Grant and the Administration’s effort to end the Sea Grant program. See the one-page fact sheet about our work. More details about this issueare on the Alaska Sea Grant website. Thank you!

31st Wakefield Fisheries Symposium on Effects of Climate Change on Northern Fisheries

illustratiion of fish with swirls

Don’t miss the 31st Wakefield Fisheries Symposium in Anchorage next month. The symposium, Impacts of a Changing Environment on the Dynamics of High-latitude Fish and Fisheries, is scheduled for May 9-11, 2017 at the Hotel Captain Cook. Invited speakers and contributors from around the world will be on hand to share their expertise.

Hans-Otto Pörtner, of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, will give the keynote first thing on day 1, “Climate change impacts on ocean biology: Physiological underpinnings, projections and uncertainties.” Pörtner led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ocean efforts for several years.

Attendees will be treated to about 50 presentations, a poster session, and social events. Invited speaker Anna Neuheimer, from the University of Hawaii, will talk about larval fish, and Christian Möllmann, University of Hamburg, is on the docket for ecosystem regime shifts.

“Tools for managing under uncertainty” is the title of the presentation by Cody Szuwalski, of the University of California Santa Barbara, and Katherine Mills, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, will speak on coastal communities coping with environmental variability.

Brad Siebel, from the University of South Florida, will launch the session on physiological effects, and Charles Stock, of the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, will talk about earth system predictions for marine resource management.

Scientists, managers, nongovernment organization leaders and others are invited to join the three-day symposium to get up-to-the-minute information on what could happen to northern fisheries, and the science behind it. The schedule and registration are on the Wakefield Fisheries Symposium website.

Old Harbor Student Wins Awards on PSP Science Fair Project

girl smiles in front of poster

Joan Barnowsky

Joan Barnowsky, a home-schooled 6th grader from Old Harbor, recently won two awards for her science fair project on paralytic shellfish poisoning. Barnowsky has been active with PSP monitoring in Old Harbor over the last few years, and was inspired by Marine Advisory agent Julie Matweyou.

Barnowsky won first place in Health and Medicine as well as a Broadcom Masters award at the 62nd Alaska Science and Engineering Fair statewide competition in Anchorage. She will go on to compete at the national level.

Matweyou has made many visits to Old Harbor to get the word out about high levels of PSP in clams, cockles, and blue mussels, which are target species for subsistence and recreational harvesters. Barnowsky became interested in the unsafe PSP levels in butter clams tested through the monitoring and research projects in the area.

“I was interested in clams ‘cause she had a chart that shows the toxicity of the clams, and I saw that, and I saw that they were unsafe, so I decided to test clams myself and help the scientist,” Barnowsky said in an interview with KMXT, referring to Matweyou.

Barnowsky’s science fair project focused on using the Scotia Rapid test on various shellfish species as well as elder interviews on harvest practices. The Scotia Rapid test provides a positive or negative response for PSP toxins but does not give the actual toxin concentration. The test is sensitive and can detect toxins below the regulatory level of 80 micrograms of toxin for every 100 grams of shellfish.

Barnowsky analyzed a variety of shellfish to determine if toxins were present year-round in other species, as they are in butter clams.

Matweyou is currently involved in a project to develop a new electrochemical test that provides a numerical result, to give more information to shellfish harvesters. She is partnering with the Sun’aq tribe of Kodiak, the Native Village of Old Harbor, and the City of Ouzinkie on a study funded in part by the North Pacific Research Board.

They’re at the beginning of the three-year project, hoping to come up with a working prototype test by the end of the three-year study.

Ibarra Earns AFS Award

smiling young woman

Sonia Ibarra

Sonia Ibarra, a PhD student in the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, has been honored with the Meritorious Service award from the Alaska Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. The award recognizes her long commitment to mentoring, particularly of Alaska Native and rural Alaskan students, and her activities to increase diversity in the sciences. The award was announced at the 2017 AFS Alaska chapter meeting in Fairbanks.

Ibarra works on an Alaska Sea Grant project on sea otter impacts on subsistence shellfish harvest, led by marine biology professor Ginny Eckert. Ibarra is funded by a National Science Foundation fellowship.

In fall 2016 Ibarra accompanied several Hydaburg, Alaska, students to the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Conference in Minneapolis.

“For me personally, accompanying students at AISES was a big deal because I value organizations that provide multiple roadmaps for increasing diversity of perspectives, worldviews, and values in the sciences,” she said in a piece she wrote for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership.

“It is critical that we address ways of creating opportunities for indigenous youth that both acknowledge their value systems while helping them navigate and train for the outside world.”

Sea Life of the Aleutians is Back in Print

green book cover

The beautiful book Sea Life of the Aleutians is back in print. First published in 2011 by Alaska Sea Grant, it features more than 100 color photographs of underwater sea life. Authors are Reid Brewer, Heloise Chenelot, Shawn Harper, and Stephen Jewett.

“The pictures in this book are amazing and a great representation of what lives in the nearshore waters of the Aleutians, and what that environment actually looks like. This book puts Alaska on the map for great dive spots!” said Brenda Konar, professor of marine biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks. The book sells for $35.