2008 | FCRR 16(9)
The huge area which makes up the Amerasian Arctic, from Novaya Zemlya Island and the Kara Sea, off north-western Siberia in the west to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Hudson Bay in the east, is fully encompassed in FAO Statistical Area 18, one of the 19 large statistical areas through which the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization documents the marine fisheries catches of the world, based on reports filed since 1950 by FAO’s member countries.
In the case of FAO Area 18, the member countries did not do their job. Thus, catches for the north of Siberia were not reported to the FAO by the USSR and later Russia (which can perhaps be forgiven since the USSR was not a member, and Russia joined the FAO only in 2006). Similarly, Canada’s catches from its Arctic waters were desultorily reported to the FAO. We reported on this for both USSR/Russia and Canada in Fisheries Centre Research Reports, 15(2), published in 2007.
The present report, which covers the fishery of arctic Alaska, thus completes our coverage of the Amerasian Arctic, i.e., of FAO Area 18, for which the total catch, as reconstructed by members of the Sea Around Us Project from 1950 to 2005, is over 50 times that reported by FAO.
As is here illustrated for Alaska, this is because the statistical reporting systems at the national (and hence international) level for fisheries on Russia, the USA and Canada do not pay any attention to their small- scale fisheries, even when these provide all the fish consumed in vast areas. In this, unfortunately, Russia, the USA and Canada do not differ much from other countries, which all tend to underestimate their small- scale fisheries catches. But more could have been expected, given that these three countries have the resources, one would think, to document one of the major food-producing sectors of the economy along their Arctic coasts. The present report also highlights the USA-specific problem of missing data as they relate to state-level jurisdiction, as fisheries data collected and reported by the State of Alaska from their 3 nautical mile jurisdiction are not incorporated into national catch reports. Be that as it may, these catch time series should now become important baselines, e.g., for assessing gains and losses due to the warming now raging in the Arctic, which will not fail to impact on fisheries. This is also the reason why the documentation of the bottom-up process used to arrive at the catch data presented therein is given in such great details.
This report is based on work funded by the Lenfest Oceans Program (www.lenfestocean.org), and we thank Ms Margaret Bowman for having understood the need to establish a historic baseline for fisheries which may change radically in the next decades, as the ice of the Arctic recedes and its waters become accessible to industrial fishing fleets. These fleets have wreaked havoc on the fish stocks and ecosystems further south. Let us hope that they do not get to undermine the fisheries documented here.
Director UBC Fisheries Centre
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Materials and Methods||4|
|Human population data||4|
|Commercial fisheries data||4|
|Subsistence fisheries data||5|
|Total catch time series||9|
|Appendix 1: Methods of expansion and anchor points||14|
|Appendix 2: Inupiat names common Names and scientific names for species reported||43|
|Appendix 3: Community information||44|
|Appendix 4: Participants and notes from data validation workshop||59|