It consists of the shores of Arctic Alaska, Chukchi and the Beaufort Sea. On the Chukchi Coast, the Noatak River produces a large chum salmon that continues Kotzebue-based commercial fishing. Thousands of anadromus Dolly Varden winter in the lower 300 km of the river and are born in some streams of the river. This system is known for the size of the Dolly Varden and its status record 8.9 kg was taken from the Noatak River in 1991. Whitefish, Arctic grassland, cod, and northern crane live in the Noatak River. Inconnu uses it to feed the lower reaches of the river in the spring of the year, but it is not known that it spawns there. Both the Selawik and Kobuk rivers support Inconnu spawning populations in their upper reaches.
Rivers on the Beaufort Sea coast have stocks of Arctic coal harvested for subsistence and sports purposes. The largest river is the Colville River, where subsistence harvesting is done using nets. Arctic cisco and least cisco are harvested in the Colville River Delta near Nuiqsut, Alaska, after the ice is formed in the fall. Targeted by autumn fishing, the Arctic cisco originates from spawning stocks in Canada’s Mackenzie River. The juveniles of the year are taken to the Colville area in August or September with the help of the western coastal currents produced mainly by the eastern winds. In contrast, the anadromous least cisco harvested as primary by-catch in fishing occurs entirely in the Colville delta and downstream river. He has a 20-year report on fisheries monitoring for the period 1985–2004.
During this period, subsistence fishing efforts showed an increasing trend. The target species, Arctic cisco, has an average of more than 65% of annual observed catch and the least cisco average of 22%. From 1985 to 2002, it is the total arctic cisco harvest for combined subsistence and commercial fishing. And there was an average of 38,600 fish per year (15,958 kg), ranging from the lowest 5859 fish (2799 kg) in 2001 to 78,254 fish (31,340 kg) in 1993. During the same period, the least cisco caught, with an average of 18,600 fish (5819 kg), ranging from 6606 fish (2014 kg) in 2001 to 33,410 fish (11,319 kg) in 1985. In the six years when both harvest and population level estimates are available, the estimated total annual harvest of arctic cisco in the Colville River Delta averages 8.9% of the fish available. And annual estimates range from 5.4% to 12.9%. At least for cisco, the average annual extraction rate is 6.8%.
In the case of Arctic cisco, evaluations were structured according to age and used hydro-acoustic models and environmental models.
Fishing in the Beaufort Sea
The Beaufort Sea is shared by Alaska and Canada, and there is no commercial fishing on marine fish on either side. Historically, there was a commercial fishing for Arctic Cisco on the US side. Currently fishing is moderate harvests by Inuvialuit and Alaska native marine mammals, Dolly Varden char, Salvelinus malma and Arctic Cisco, Coregonus autumnalis. Commercial fishing in the Beaufort Sea predates the 1960s, however, no economically viable commercial fishing was practiced in the area. Most fisheries in the area are focused on harvesting large anadrome large whitefish, C. nasus. They are caught in nets along the beach in summer or when they enter freshwater rivers to spend the winter, and large white fish grow and have better quality meat. However, due to limited local markets and high shipping costs, a commercial fishery has not been developed.
Dolly Varden, west of the Mackenzie River, was once thought to represent a different form of the Arctic char. They live in the Rat River and its tributaries and are mostly harvested for subsistence. However, in two regions, the Great Fish River and Mouse Rivers were harvested through both subsistence and commercial fishing. Arctic coal typically occurs in river systems east of the Mackenzie River drainage. A Fisheries Joint Management Committee (FJMC) works with DFO to jointly manage all fish, fish habitats and marine mammals. The FJMC is empowered to advise the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans directly on fisheries matters. The committee is responsible for collecting harvest information and making recommendations on subsistence quotas for fish and marine mammals. FJMC also monitors sport fishing in the region.
Community consultations are an important part of fisheries management in the region. The FJMC has a research budget, it provides funding to complement traditional knowledge and science to solve resource management problems. The Canadian federal government and the Inuvialuit people of the Western Arctic signed an agreement in 2011 to protect fishing borders in the Beaufort Sea as a step towards a comprehensive ocean management plan for the Beaufort Sea. Commercial fishing is not available in the Beaufort Sea, but there have been many experimental applications in the fishing license since 2000. Melting of sea ice has led to the opening of many of the Arctic waterways. The integrated management framework for fishing in the Beaufort Sea requires future commercial fishing to have the support of the Inuvialuits living in the area.
Mathias notes that the main subsistence food for Canadian Inuvialuits comes from beluga whale, broad whitefish, Arctic charcoal, ringed seal, inconnu, humpback whitefish, and Arctic cisco. Fishing efficiency and even biomass on Canadian Beaufort shelves are unknown. No systematic research has been carried out for demersal and pelagic fish (other than larval fish) in the Canadian Beaufort Sea. In some places, however, it was hunted with gill nets, beach purse seiners, fine nets and small medium water trawls. The distribution and ecology of off-the-shelf fish communities in the deep waters of the Canadian Beaufort Sea are mostly unexplored. This is partly due to inaccessibility due to ice cover and lack of industrial interest in abyssal areas.
Mathias is less affected by the flow from the fertile Bering Sea of Canadian shelves. It is noted that the Canadian racks may be less efficient than the Alaska Shelf as there may be other productivity differences caused by the large accumulation environment caused by the Mackenzie River. The Beaufort Sea Alaskan Shelf survey was carried out ~ 109 km east from the edge of the Barrow Trough and was caught between 40 and 500 m, passing the shelf break.
A standard bottom trawl survey measured the distribution and density of demersal fish. Biomass estimates are produced for two depth layers (40-100 m and 100-500 m). And by adding the two estimates, a total biomass estimate of 18 kg / ha for the 6280 ha area of the shelf is provided. Arctic cod accounts for 81% of the catch, while Bering flounder and walleye pollock together make up 4%. The sampled depths are considered suitable for potential commercial fishing on the continental shelf and upper continental slope, but are unlikely to occur in very shallow, near-shore areas.
In the same 6280-hectare sampling area of the Alaska Shelf, pelagic mid-water trawls and hydro-acoustic equipment measured biomass estimates for 19.2 kg ha-1 and 53.7 kg Arctic cod in the 40 to 100 m depth range.
]These densities are comparable to an estimate of unfinished biomass for demersal Arctic cod from otter trawls. 18 kg ha –1 (= 1.8 mt km -2). The results of this fishing study at the Alaskan Shelf show that, regardless of which species a commercial fishing is targeting, Arctic cod can constitute an important by-catch. Demersal fish are only 6% of the fish caught by mass and the scattering biomass are brittle stars. Arctic cod dominates fishing, which accounts for 81% of fish biomass. Eel accounts for 11% of the fishing, Greenland halibut is 0.7%, and walleye pollock and Pacific cod (both not reported from the Canadian Beaufort Sea) account for 2%.
Evaluations of important marine mammal species such as Bowhead Whale are performed using an aerial survey and a Potential Biological Removal (PBR) model. Dolly Varden’s assessment was made using surplus and age-structured models (X. Zhu, DFO personal communication).
Author: Ozlem Guvenc Agaoglu