Corrosive oceans are killing sea life     Credit:

The state Board of Fisheries and the public will learn how a changing climate and off kilter ocean chemistry are affecting some of Alaska’s most popular seafood stocks.

The board, which sets the rules for subsistence, commercial, sport and personal use fisheries, begins its annual meeting cycle next week with a two-day work session in Anchorage.

A talk on ocean acidification is set for the first night. The acidity prevents marine creatures from forming shells and skeletons, among other things.

To date, most research has focused on crab and some fish studies in the lab.

   “We’ve found effects on Tanner crab and red king crab in the laboratory. Interestingly, on a positive note, we have found very little effect, if any, in the early life stages of juvenile snow crab. So, there’s some hope for that species.  For fish, we’ve found limited if any effects on pollock, but we have found effects on cod and some flatfish species.”  

Bob Foy, director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center at the NOAA Auke Bay lab in Juneau, will lead the presentation.

Future work, he says, will take a “bottoms up approach” and look at how a changing ocean effects marine creatures’ metabolism and other body functions.

     “We know more recently from the large changes we’ve seen in the climate and the increased warming, the heat waves we’ve seen in Alaska, that the lower trophic levels are dramatically affected by that heat. And those effects have been observed in the larger commercial fish species such as cod,” Foy said, referring to the 80% cod crash last year in the Gulf of Alaska that is blamed on imbalances caused by warmer water.   

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Being forewarned, Foy says, is being forearmed.

 “Our goal is to get the word out to the commercial industry, coastal communities, to managers and policymakers so we can better understand how these changes in the environment may lead to changes in our economies, in our livelihoods and our ways of life in Alaska.”  

The OA talk will take place on Wednesday, October 23 at the Egan Center starting at 5:30pm.

Contact Darcy Dugan at the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network for more information at