The State of Oregon and its partners will receive $4.2 million to study stressors facing Dungeness crab and other marine life in the face of climate change

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NEWPORT, Ore. — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded Oregon State University and its research partners $4.2 million to study the impact of several stressors related to climate change on offshore marine ecosystems. coasts of Oregon, Washington and northern California.

Researchers will focus on two key species: the Dungeness crab, which plays an important economic and cultural role in Indigenous and other coastal communities and is considered Oregon’s most valuable single-species fishery; and krill, which are tiny crustaceans that play an essential role in the ocean food web and serve as a barometer of ocean health.

Both species are threatened by multiple stressors, including ocean acidification; low oxygen conditions, also known as hypoxia; sea ​​heat waves; rising ocean temperatures; and harmful algal blooms.

The goal of the new project is to better understand the direct and indirect impacts of these stressors and help commercial fisheries and state and tribal resource managers prepare for the changes ahead, said Francis Chan, the researcher. major. Chan is a marine ecologist and director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Ecosystem and Resources Studies at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

“We know the climate is changing and that is impacting our marine resources,” Chan said. “This work is about how best to position the Dungeness crab fishery to be more resilient to these changes. At the end of this work, we hope to have answers to help anglers and managers achieve a climate-ready fishery.

Work will focus on the Northern California Current, the stretch of waters along the West Coast from Washington to Northern California, including the NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Tribal Fishing Areas for a long time.

Researchers will use existing and new ocean data, ocean and climate models, laboratory experiments, and fisheries management assessment techniques to learn about the relationships between different stressors and potential cascading impacts. which may result.

“We’re connecting the dots on key elements of innovative ocean research, including underwater autonomous vehicle observations, AI-based analysis of ocean food webs, and cutting-edge climate models,” said Jack Barth. , executive director of OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative and oceanographer at the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

A key element of the project is the integration of traditional ecological knowledge, that is, the accumulation of indigenous science, including information, practices and beliefs about environmental relationships and functions, including all elements, species and processes within ecosystems.

Samantha Chisholm Hatfield, a member of the Siletz tribe and TEK specialist, assistant research professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Sciences at OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, will lead this aspect of the project.

The work will include interviews with tribal members to better understand changes in shellfish populations and ocean patterns that tribal members have orally documented over several generations.

“We want to provide context on what changing ocean conditions could mean for the future, not only for the commercial industry, but also the cultural impacts for West Coast tribal communities,” she said. declared.

Tribal fishermen will also contribute to the collection of scientific data on ocean conditions in their areas. The research team will also work closely with commercial and tribal fisheries leaders through the establishment of a management advisory board.

“The involvement of an advisory committee is essential. We want to ensure that our science will provide answers to questions that people who work in the fishing industry are looking for and can use. Chan said.

“With all the information we gather, we hope to give people a clear vision of what the future of fishing in this region will look like. We will also consider how current resource management tools, such as size limits and seasonal closures, and other options identified by fishers and managers, could be used in the future to protect the fishery.

The project is funded by NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, NOAA Climate Program Office, NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program, and the US Integrated Ocean Observing System Office, in partnership with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Other OSU researchers on the project are Maria Kavanaugh of the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences; Bob Cowen, Su Sponaugle, and Moritz Schmid of the Hatfield Marine Science Center; and Nina Bednarsek of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Ecosystem and Resources Studies.

Other research partners are from the University of California, Santa Barbara; University of Washington; University of Connecticut; the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems; and NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Centers of Coastal Ocean Science, and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.


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