WCS North America

Coastal Lagoons in Arctic Beringia

Coastal lagoons in Arctic National Park units provide critical habitat for whitefish. However, park managers lack data necessary for understanding trends in subsistence use, changes in habitat use, and long-term patterns in whitefish populations. Whitefish species are one of the most important subsistence resources in northwest Alaska. Local fishermen have observed the loss of “countless numbers” of whitefish in some areas of Kotzebue Sound, emphasizing the need to understand, and if necessary, respond to the environmental and human factors driving such perceived declines.

Goals

  • Document whitefish health and seasonal dynamics in and around five lagoons in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Cape Krusenstern National Monument, and the fishery catches of three neighboring communities. 
  • Incorporate findings into best management practices of domestic maritime transport supporting oil and gas activities in the northern Chukchi Sea, consideration of deep-water ports in the northern Bering Sea, and new developments in international shipping along the Northern Sea Route

Activities

Kotzebue Sound Whitefish Ecology and Seasonal Dynamics

Starting in summer of 2015, we will document the whitefish seasonal dynamics at and around five coastal lagoons in Bering Land Bridge and Cape Krusenstern National Monuments known to offer habitat for whitefish – Krusenstern, Aqulaaq, Sisualik, Espenberg, and Cowpack, and the fishery catches of three communities: Kivalina, Kotzebue, and Deering. All these communities can fish for whitefish year-round and without limit. Inventory, monitoring, and research are warranted for all six whitefish species (family Salmonidae; subfamily Coregoninae)– broad whitefish, humpback whitefish, least cisco, Bering cisco, round whitefish, and sheefish that inhabit lagoons of Bering Land Bridge and Cape Krustenstern.

Latest Publications

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Contact

WCS Arctic Beringia
P.O. Box 751110 Fairbanks, AK 99775
(907) 750-9991

Key Staff

Partners Include

University of Alaska Fairbanks
National Park Service