Historical Ecology of the Pacific Cod Fishery


Marine heat waves have resulted in dramatic production failures among coastal fisheries. Although these heat waves have affected fisheries everywhere, their effects in the Arctic have been both acute and particularly difficult to predict. Yet, predicting the timing, extent, and consequences of marine heat waves is increasingly critical as their intensity is predicted to continue to rise. This project uses a marine historical ecology framework to investigate patterns and consequences of climatological and cod population changes over multiple timescales. It combines data from archaeological, historical, climatological, Indigenous Knowledge, and biological records to understand the dynamic interactions among climate, people, fish, and marine ecosystems in the Arctic. The project supports the training of numerous students, solidifies convergent, multi-institution partnerships, and disseminates results broadly to academic and non-academic audiences and stakeholders. 

The goal of this project is to form a convergent research team to address the relevance of long-term data to contemporary fisheries management, using Pacific cod as a case study. Specifically, this research is guided by an interdisciplinary, marine historical ecology framework that looks to long-term records, including archaeological, paleo-climatological, historical, genomic, and Indigenous Knowledge, to capture a long range of ecological and social variability and to provide an historical context for informing current management. The project pursues the following objectives: 1) to understand and make recommendations for how long-term data might be used in fisheries management; 2) to assess whether there are historical analogs that could help understand recent climate changes and fisheries crashes; and 3) to prioritize collaboration with Native residents, drawing on their expert observations of local environmental conditions and historical precedents. As increasingly unpredictable marine conditions threaten to destabilize well-established fisheries across the Artic, climate readiness is critical. This project contributes to this aim by addressing the extent to which long-term data reflecting multiple domains of climate action capture trends that facilitate prediction of modern climate phenomena that are less apparent in short-term data.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Principal Investigators

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Project PI(s)
Project Start Date
Oct 2022
Award Year