Assessing Community Options
The fishing-based economy of Alaska’s Pribilof Islands is on the brink of collapse.
The billion-dollar fishery, built in the 1980s with federal assistance, was intended to replace the declining fur seal harvest — the islands’ economic mainstay for more than 200 years. But now climate change and the disruption of the Bering Sea ecosystem are impacting both the Pollock and halibut fisheries.
In 2004, the Pribilof Islands Collaborative, a group of fishing industry representatives, tribal entities and environmentalists, invited Ecotrust to perform a socioeconomic and ecological analysis. Ecotrust assembled and analyzed local, state, regional, national and international data and conducted an on-island survey to create a socioeconomic baseline. These studies are now moving forward as part of the $50 million Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program — a joint venture of the North Pacific Research Board and National Science Foundation — which seeks greater understanding of the productive Bering Sea ecosystem and of the fishing communities that it supports.
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