Fishlines — May 2017

Vol. 37, No. 5, May 2017

Five State Fellows Placed

Five Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows will soon start one-year positions with state and federal agencies in Alaska. The Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship program began in 2015, placing two fellows the first year and three the next. The program adds capacity to marine policy agencies and encourages fellows to begin their careers in Alaska.

Chelsea Clawson, who is earning her MS in fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will take a job at the US Geological Survey, while Genevieve Johnson, also in the fisheries MS program at UAF, will work at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

The North Pacific Research Board and US Fish and Wildlife Service LCC have teamed up to create a position for Liza Mack, who is nearly finished with her PhD in indigenous studies at UAF.

Danielle Meeker, completing her master of advanced studies in climate science and policy at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will take a job at the Alaska Office of the Lieutenant Governor. Kim Ovitz, earning her master’s in fisheries at the University of Maine, will work at NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service.

The new Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows will start their jobs between July 1 and late September 2017.

Fisheries Symposium Held

two people standing

Franz Mueter presents poster award to Jen Marsh.

Alaska Sea Grant hosted the 31st Wakefield Fisheries Symposium last week in Anchorage, bringing together experienced scientists, fisheries managers, students and others to assess the effects of environmental changes on high latitude fisheries.

About 55 talks from international speakers were presented, interspersed with networking, a reception and dinner, and a panel on projecting climate change impacts on fish and fisheries. Nearly 100 people attended from around the nation and worldwide.

Public radio station KYUK covered the conference, as did veteran Alaska journalist Steve Heimel. Read his conference coverage on Alaska Noosphere.

Steering committee co-chairs were Franz Mueter, University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, and Anne Hollowed, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

The best student oral presentation award went to Karen Dunmall, University of Manitoba and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Jennifer Marsh, a University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student who is currently an Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow at the NOAA Fisheries Habitat Conservation Division, won the best student poster award.

Alaska Sea Grant will post the talks online, provide a transcription of the panel discussion, and publish a peer-reviewed proceedings.

Aquatic Education in Alaska Schools

children wearing safety goggles

Alaska Sea Grant’s work to promote marine literacy in the state is kicking into high gear this spring with nearly 30 schools participating in our Get Your Feet Wet program, including Dillingham.

Get Your Feet Wet is a field trip program that teachers register for, which incorporates Alaska Sea Grant’s K-8 school science curriculum, Alaska Seas and Watersheds.

In April Marilyn Sigman, Alaska Sea Grant marine education specialist, visited fourth graders at Creekside Park Elementary (video) in east Anchorage. Using lessons developed for the Alaska Seas and Watersheds curriculum, Sigman explained the salmon life cycle and what it takes to keep these iconic fish healthy. For hands-on activities, she created a mock indoor salmon stream and had the students line up alongside it. Some held obstacles such as fishing poles or nets, or a stuffed raven or a sea lion, while other students pretended to be salmon and swam up the stream.

Following classroom instruction, the Creekside Park students visited nearby Chester Creek to find out if it provides healthy habitat for salmon. The students conducted experiments, testing water quality and searching for macro-invertebrates (such as insects) that salmon like to eat. They determined that Chester Creek does support healthy salmon despite running through Anchorage’s urban neighborhoods.

Later in May the Creekside students joined other fourth and fifth graders—some 300 in all—at Westchester Lagoon, where Chester Creek meets the ocean. They learned about how the creek connects to the Pacific Ocean at the lagoon, tested the water for dissolved oxygen and pH, and tried their hand at trapping and releasing juvenile salmon. View a photo slideshow of the field trip.

Sigman’s classroom visit and the Chester Creek trip both drew media coverage, including an Alaska Dispatch News photo gallery and a story on KTUU TV.

Beginning in 2014, Alaska Sea Grant has committed $113,000 to 10 of Alaska’s school districts for marine and aquatic education programs in 19 communities.

In Anchorage, Alaska Sea Grant contributed $10,000 in a three-year grant to pay for field trips and equipment using the Alaska Seas and Watersheds curriculum. Students in every Anchorage fourth-grade classroom now spend a semester learning about Anchorage watershed ecosystems and salmon.

Holen Profiled

close up portrait of Davin Holen

Davin Holen

The Prince William Sound RCAC (Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council) recently published a profile of Davin Holen, Marine Advisory coastal community resilience specialist. From Holen’s traveling the world at age 17 to earning his PhD in anthropology and his work at Alaska Sea Grant, the story is told about his dedication to the quality of life in Alaska communities.

Holen is a member of the PWS RCAC Scientific Advisory Committee.

Invasive Elodea Threatens Waterways

close up of green plant against a white background

The Alaska Dispatch News recently published a guest column on the invasive water plant Elodea by Tobias Schwoerer. Schwoerer warned that Elodea is the most serious invasive species in the state, clogging waterways and threatening salmon habitat.

With research funded in part by Alaska Sea Grant, Schwoerer concluded that if elodea is allowed to spread, the loss to commercial sockeye fisheries and recreational floatplane pilots would be around $97 million a year—or about a quarter of the value fishermen received for their 2016 Alaska salmon catch.

He recommended that Alaska invest in cleaning up waterways now to prevent spreading. “I estimate that a one-time investment of approximately $10 million could clean up all known Elodea infestations in Alaska,” Schwoerer said.

AOOS Film Contest

detail from poster: colors squares with boats, people

The Alaska Ocean Observing System’s 2017 ocean short film contest deadline is September 15. The contest rules and submission form are on the AOOS website. Films must be under 10 minutes and focus on Alaska’s ocean and coast. Topics vary and include educational, informational, and just for fun. You can view the 2016 grand prize winner on YouTube.

Innovation Award Earned

open hand holding small squares

Marine Advisory seafood specialists Quentin Fong and Chris Sannito recently received honors for their efforts at innovation. The two were awarded a “citation for innovation in research leading to commercialization” by the UAF Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization on May 5 in Fairbanks. The award recognized their work to develop a pet treat made with pollock skin.

The Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center funded the research on pet treats. The pollock skin–based treat has been eagerly consumed by dogs in informal settings.