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Annual Meeting of the AAAS Arctic Division Will Focus on Alaska's Marine Resources


Spawning Salmon in Becharof Stream within the Becharof Wilderness in southern Alaska, USA. [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons]

The 2013 annual meeting of the AAAS Arctic Division will convene 26-28 September in Kodiak, Alaska, with the theme "Fisheries and Watersheds: Food Security, Education and Sustainability." Open to the public, the meeting will bring together researchers, policymakers, students and others with an interest in the wise use of Alaska's marine resources.

Located in the Gulf of Alaska, on the second-largest island in the United States, Kodiak is a major fishing port and lies close to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. The conference will take place at the Kodiak Harbor Convention Center and will a variety of plenary talks and symposia focusing on the impacts of climate change, development and pollution on ecosystem services, such as food and water security, in the North.

"The meeting will allow leading fisheries and environmental scientists to interact with students and the community in a holistic way to exchange information, insights and concerns about the sustainability of traditional fisheries and the watersheds that support them," said Larry Duffy, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Executive Director of the AAAS Arctic Division.

The information that emerges from the conference may be used by resource managers to modify and improve policy, and by educators to add engaging, place-based information to their courses. The AAAS Arctic Division meeting organizers "hope that the interactions and discussions with the community will increase the resilience and adaptability of Alaska communities as they face these multiple threats to northern people and the ecosystems they inhabit," Duffy said.

The three-day meeting program includes six technical sessions and four plenary speakers, including two by Purdue University researchers that will focus on seafood issues: "Can Preschool Children Consume More Fish to Improve Diet Quality and DHA Intake?" by Sibylle Kranz and "Seafood: Health Risks vs. Benefits," by Charles Santerre.

Michael Castellini, dean of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (SFOS) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will deliver the keynote address, "Marine Arctic 2020: At the Intersection of Science, Education, Policy and Environment," on Thursday, 26 September.

Two workshops are planned, one on communicating science and another on community science, K-12 interactions, and teacher trainings. A poster session rounds out the meeting. Admission is free but registration is required.

Technical Session Highlights

Thursday, 26 September

  • Marine Biology: Researchers will discuss the trophic ecology of marine birds of the far western Aleutian Islands; evidence of climate change impacts on mercury levels in Kodiak sea otters; and high-resolution benthic imaging with the Alaska CamSled.
  • Fisheries: This symposium will include presentations on monitoring and harvesting certain fish populations, including herring and salmon; the role of smelt in local and indigenous cultures; and issues in fisheries privatization.
  • Seafood Science: Researchers will present a nutritional and contaminant analysis of skates in the Gulf of Alaska; and discuss phthalate and PCB contamination in seabirds from the western Aleutian Islands.

Friday, 27 September

  • Sustainability: Topics in this session include renewable energy; social-ecological dynamics on the Kenai Peninsula; a net-zero-energy home in Dillingham, Alaska; permaculture; and successful fishing communities in rural Alaska.
  • Interdisciplinary, General and Applied Science: This session will include presentations on differing beliefs about the concept of subsistence; the art and science of Denali; using remote sensing imagery to detect multi-decadal change; assessing climate change impacts on freshwater systems; and research on community adaptive capacity.
  • Science Education, Friday, 27 September: Four experts in this symposium will explore emerging themes and resources in STEM K-12 and higher education.

AAAS Divisions

AAAS's four regional divisions — Pacific, Arctic, Caribbean, and Southwestern and Rocky Mountain (SWARM) — serve as regional networks for scientists, organizing meetings on regional issues and promoting publications from scientists active within the division.

Founded in 1951 as the Alaska Division, the Arctic Division was established to foster scientific communication in the then rather isolated Arctic territory. The name was changed to Arctic Division in 1982 to reflect the membership's growing interest in high latitudes outside of Alaska. Most of the Division members reside in Alaska and Canada's Yukon, Northwest Territory, and Nunavut, but any AAAS member who has an interest in the Arctic may join.

Learn more about the AAAS Arctic Division and the four regional AAAS divisions.

View the program for the 2013 AAAS Arctic Division Annual Meeting.

Follow the meeting on Twitter with the #AAASAD hashtag.