With a constantly warming and acidifying ocean, it doesn’t take much imagination to understand that climate change will have large impacts on Alaska’s fisheries. With stream and air temperatures increasing, certain streams will be harder for salmon to spawn in. A study conducted in 2016 documented changes in recent summer stream temperatures for Alaska salmon. They found that the temperature of most stream sites in Alaska “exceeded the established criterion for spawning and incubation (13 degrees C),” meaning that salmon are currently experiencing thermal stresses across the state to a point that compromises their health and reproduction2.
Ocean acidification is a process where the excessive carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is being absorbed by the ocean, making it more acidic. According to a study conducted by NOAA and UAF scientists, Alaskan seas are projected to experience “strong global change” including rapid warming, acidification, and more. These changes will affect the health of Alaskan commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries. Red King crab and Tanner crab have already exhibited negative responses to the increasingly acidic oceanic environment; King crab specifically showing lower survival, growth, and calcium content in response to ocean acidification3. Both deep-water and high-latitude species, including those found in the Arctic, have less ability to respond to changes in acidity and are at a high risk of declining. In order to save our fisheries, we need to address climate change now.