Below are the sessions the joint Program Committee developed. If you are interested in organizing and/or moderating a session listed below or for one that cannot be captured in what is already drafted, please contact the Alaska Chapter – AFS (Aaron Martin; 907-786-3510, firstname.lastname@example.org) or the AWRA (Erica Betts; 907-452-1414, email@example.com) Program Chairs.
- Contemporary challenges and innovative solutions to generate broad public interest and engagement in conservation of fisheries and water resources
Session Co-Chairs and point of contacts: Jimmy Fox (USFWS; firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ryan Toohey (USGS; email@example.com)
Communication strategies need to reflect an understanding of contemporary behavioral motivators and factors that constrain meaningful public interactions with, discourse about, and participation in conservation of fisheries and water resources. Framing outreach and communication around these motivators and constraints is increasingly a critical component of any successful fisheries, fish habitat, or watershed conservation program. The objective of this session is to introduce contemporary challenges/constraints, and highlight creative ways to increase the relevancy and visibility of aquatic conservation efforts to a broader segment of society.
- Shared Knowledge
Session Chair and point of contact: Stephanie Quinn – Davidson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fisheries and watershed issues, policies, and research questions in Alaska span multiple user-groups, ecosystems, international boundaries, and cultures. Additionally, due to the sheer size of Alaska, fisheries and watersheds are complex and encompass large, remote geographical regions. Sharing knowledge among one another, and across disciplines, can help deal with this complexity and address critical data gaps. This session will feature talks highlighting research, programs, or activities that are examples of how fisheries and watershed knowledge, data, and information can be shared across cultures, disciplines, and boundaries. The session will provide an opportunity for policy makers, agencies, academics, tribal organizations, non-profits, private consultants, and other stakeholders to consider current practice and future opportunities for building knowledge-sharing partnerships that can enhance collaborative efforts in fisheries and watershed research, management, and communication.
- Resource Security
Session Chair and point of contact: Caroline Brown, email@example.com
Food and water are lifelines to communities throughout Alaska. These resources are so critical to our state that people of have been identifying themselves and their cultures based on river confluences, fishing locations, or the types of fish in the river for thousands of years. However, drastic changes are occurring to the fisheries and water resources of Alaska. Threats to their sustainability are continuing to multiply due to climate change, development, and population growth. This session will focus on research that aims to understand historical trends and future projections in fisheries populations and water resources and how these are utilized by humans and other animals. Through this session, participants will have an opportunity to gain a holistic view of how aquatic ecosystems have changed as well as tractable approaches to assessing the vulnerability of populations, habitats, and infrastructure that can be used to guide prioritization of limited management resources.
- Changing Processes
Session Chair and point of contact: Ryan Toohey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alaska has experienced a warming climate over the last century with some of the greatest changes occurring over the last several decades. Changes in precipitation, temperature, and vegetation are some of the primary drivers that affect changes in ecosystem and hydrological processes. The topics of this session will include documentation of environmental change, impacts of environmental change and future projections of change in different geographical areas of boreal and arctic ecosystems throughout Alaska and Canada. Presentations invited to this session are expected to be from a wide variety of disciplines including, but not limited to: climate, glacial processes, hydrology, ecology, fisheries science, invasive species, and social sciences. In addition, projects investigating the impacts of longer term variability and its impacts on thresholds and trends are strongly encouraged.
- Statewide Chinook Salmon Research
Session Chair and point of contact: Jeff Falke, email@example.com
Across Alaska, a recent downturn in Chinook salmon returns has led to hardship among user groups and an increased interest in better understanding how physical and biological processes affect freshwater and marine survival and population persistence within these important commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries. In 2012 the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) initiated a research initiative to address the aforementioned issues that focused on, 1) assessment of knowledge gaps for indicator stocks, 2) compilation of traditional ecological knowledge, 3) research on juvenile ecology and survival in the nearshore environment, and 4) examination of how environmental factors influence life history processes. This session will provide an update on the results of this collaboration among ADFG, federal agencies, and academia.
- Alaska Gems
Session point of contact: Aaron Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alaska’s ‘gems’: untangling the mysteries of the 49th state’s understudied critters and habitats. Alaska is the largest state in the nation with over 222,000 km2 of land area encompassing freshwater bodies and 10,000 km of coastline. The state is home to 470 marine and 52 freshwater fish species that occupy a wide variety of habitats. Owing to the vast, difficult to access expanses of Alaska, little is known of the biology, ecology, and natural history of many native organisms and often even less about their important habitats. The purpose of this session is to highlight Alaska’s ‘gems’: species, habitats, or places that are unique to Alaska but not well known – even among Alaskans!
- Ecosystem Management
Session point of contact: Aaron Martin, email@example.com
The goal of ecosystem management is to maintain ecosystems that will support diverse human societal benefits for present and future generations. To achieve this, it is necessary to consider the biodiversity and interconnectedness of ecosystems and the human value surrounding those systems. Alaska organizations are fortunate to work across intact ecosystems that include vast areas of land, fresh water, and sea that are influenced by human activities and environmental conditions at home and in other countries. Some human activities are compatible with ecosystem function and do not affect its integrity while others can lead to ecosystem dysfunctionality. This session will build on discussions from the 2016 AFS Chapter meeting to highlight the concept of ecosystem management and its application in marine and freshwater environments. The session will discuss the tools needed to apply this management technique with some time spent on discussing areas of Alaska that would benefit from an ecosystem management strategy.
- Fisheries Bycatch
Session Chair and point of contact: Diana Stram, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bycatch or the ‘accidental’ capture of species other than what fisheries are targeting can be a wide-spread problem in various fisheries in Alaska. From the bycatch of prohibited species such as salmon and halibut in offshore fisheries, to mixed fisheries for salmon species in-river and nearshore, fishers and managers struggle to address bycatch as well as understand the impacts on populations. Innovative gear technology from modifications to bottom trawl gear, modifications to trawl net configurations, to use of alternative capture techniques such as dip nets in rivers have provided some relief for managing these mixed capture fisheries. Other management measures such as the donation of bycaught fish to food banks that would otherwise be discarded have reduced wastage. This session will focus on different bycatch issues being addressed in Alaskan marine and freshwater fisheries from innovative management and technology to understanding the population impacts of bycatch and the economic impacts on multiple fisheries and communities.
- Science in Support of Alaska’s Future
Session Chair and point of contact: Erica Betts; ericaBetts@pdceng.com
Water, aquatic habitat, wetlands and fisheries studies are all important components of planning efforts for new development in Alaska. Much of the information collected in the State is in anticipation of infrastructure and development from oil and gas, mining, energy production, or to support population growth. This session invites speakers to share case studies or innovations spurred by these planning efforts.
- Contributed Papers
If your presentation does not fit into one of the above sessions, we welcome papers related to any aspect of utilizing, managing, or conserving aquatic resources.
- Speed Talks
Found something interesting in your recent field work, but haven’t had time to work up the data completely? Work on salmon but have a passion for cephalopods you’d like to share? Feel like you’re the only who is studying what you are and it just doesn’t fit into the other sessions? Just have something truly fascinating you’d like to share, but it’s not enough to fill a 15-minute oral presentation? This session will feature 5 minute talks: 3 for the speaker, and 2 for questions. A departure from traditional presentations, this session is a chance to expose highly specific parts of your work on to the AFS and AWRA membership.