Over the winter, the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network circulated a survey to learn about Alaskan’s biggest questions related to OA and what they hoped scientists would be able to answer. The goal of the survey was to ensure monitoring plans align with community information needs so that people can better plan, adapt and respond to changing ocean and nearshore conditions.
The survey was completed by 125 people from across the state.
- Most people are interested in OA because they have a direct personal connection to the marine environment (as fishermen, subsistence harvesters, point people in communities that depend on ocean resources, etc.)
- Alaskans in general have a good understanding of broader scale impacts associated with ocean acidification (the food chain, global health, cumulative environmental stressors)
- The most frequent questions people had included:
- How will it affect fish, shellfish and other species?
- Can we slow, stop or reverse it?
- How fast is it happening – what’s the rate?
- What’s the current status (how bad is it; what’s going on now)?
- With regard to forecasting, Alaskans are most interested in seasonal and near-term forecasts (next 10 years). They noted this would help harvesters who are relying on different resources seasonally, and also constitute a relevant time period to people who could work on prepare an adaptation strategy.
- When asked what area of the state they were most interested in with respect to OA, 64% of respondents linked their choice to somewhere where they lived or fished. Around 25% noted interconnectedness of the oceans and that all areas were important.
- Highest priority species for research on the response to OA were shellfish, salmon and lower trophic (bottom of the food chain) species. Many respondents mentioned prioritizing commercial fish stocks because they would be likely to get the most attention.
- There is interest in addressing carbon policy and discussing efforts the state could take to mitigate OA impacts.
What will the Alaska OA Network do with this information?
The survey helped the network gauge the current level of understanding Alaskans have on the topic of ocean acidification. Some of the most frequently asked questions have answers, and the network can do a better job connecting people with information – both through the web and at outreach events. Overall, the major questions asked by survey takers were not strikingly different than the information needs identified by the research community (interest in species response, rate of change, and current status). This underscores the need for continued research, as we are still in the early stages of understanding ocean acidification in Alaska.
Powerpoint summary of survey results