Scientists Establish Baseline to Gauge How Alaska Communities Will Respond to Change
February 19, 2016
“In many places throughout Alaska, reliance on marine resources is central to the way people live. Over 90 percent of Alaska’s rural residents rely on wild-caught food for part if not all of the year,” said Doug DeMaster, Director, Alaska Fisheries Science Center.
A small boat harbor in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
In general, the communities with the lowest socioeconomic well-being are found in western Alaska, where few economic opportunities exist. On the other hand, the majority of communities with the highest fisheries involvement indices are located in southcentral and southeast Alaska. Here, local residents are heavily involved in commercial, recreational and/or subsistence harvesting or processing.
It is not easy to assess community well-being, resilience, and vulnerability. Typically, scientists have to rely on time intensive and expensive field surveys to collect this type of information. However, by using a common set of indicators from already existing secondary data that consider things like household income, population composition, the cost of housing, employment, and the types of fishing businesses that people are engaged in, scientists could assess these communities rapidly. Using this consistent approach across regions of the US, scientists are able to do cross-regional and nationwide analysis.
“Not surprising is that all the Alaska communities studied are unique, having different values for each of the indices compared. As a result, we expect they will respond to perturbations differently. However, we now have a consistent and quick way to measure these impacts. Resource managers can, in turn, make headway in advancing ecosystem-based fishery management because they will have access to timely socio-economic information,” said Stephen Kasperski, social scientist, Alaska Fisheries Science Center.
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Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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