**EDIT: This AMA is closed. Thanks so much for all your questions!**

Here’s the column: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2023-opinion-arctic-geopolitics-resources/fisheries.html?srnd=undefined

I’m Liam Denning, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion who just got back from a fascinating reporting trip in Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim delta. I went there to find out more about America's great Arctic fishery

Globally, we ate almost 45 pounds of fish per person in 2020, up from 32 pounds in the 1990s. The world is about to consume more farmed seafood than wild fish for the first time ever.

The collapse in some Alaskan fisheries is threatening a vital food supply and a cherished way of life — a stark warning of a global future massively disrupted by environmental pressures. I’ve written a series of on-the-ground features about the changing Arctic, and this is part 3.

PROOF: https://i.redd.it/1f6yvs1bp7vb1.jpg

Comments: 122 • Responses: 8  • Date: 

SophieTheCat54 karma

What solutions, do you think, should the world pursue in light of your findings?

bloombergopinion137 karma

That will differ from region to region but for Alaska, I would say the biggest thing is reorienting fisheries management away from overemphasizing production toward what I would call an ecosystem approach.

In other words, success isn't defined just by catches but by population stability and the health of related systems - including, in this case, the people who depend on subsistence fishing. Setting and maintaining hard caps on bycatch, including species that aren't currently covered like chum salmon is necessary.

Also, our understanding of climate change's impact on Alaska's fisheries remains at an early stage; suggesting we err on the side of conserving fish populations until we have a better understanding. That's the sentiment expressed in the piece by David Bayes, the sport-charter captain: When the road fills with potholes, you can't just keep speeding along at 75MPH. -- LD

TropicalPunch51 karma

First, great work! Secondly, how did this change what types of seafood you eat? I worked as a fishmonger for many years and now I refuse to eat farmed salmon.

bloombergopinion43 karma

Snap! I worked as a fishmonger when I was a teenager and, like you, I prefer wild fish where available. This trip has accentuated that. -- LD

cmv126 karma

Can you elaborate? I buy farm raised salmon a couple of times a month, but willing to reconsider with information from someone who knows whats what.

bloombergopinion19 karma

Purely a matter of taste and minimizing the risks associated with aquaculture, including potential use of antibiotics to counter disease; though I recognize not all fish farms use the same methods. -- LD

SpaceElevatorMusic24 karma

Hello, and thanks for the AMA.

Is there such a thing as 'seafood that is responsible to consume' at all, from an environmental health perspective, or would it be better to skip it altogether?

bloombergopinion29 karma

We've been consuming seafood since time immemorial (Alaska Native people have for at least 10,000 years) so there is a responsible way to consume seafood and has been for a long time. Our present difficulty is that, as we've seen with other natural ecosystems that have been abused (eg, the atmosphere) our economic interest skews toward harvesting/consumption, rather than sustainability/conservation. Fish is also a healthy protein to eat (and less resource consumptive than, say, beef) so we shouldn't just abandon it. -- LD

BCCMNV16 karma

Hi! It seems everyone was surprised by the increased caloric intake, caused by warmer temperatures, being the culprit behind the missing snow crabs.

Are there worries that this trend could impact other fisheries as well?

bloombergopinion17 karma

That issue of increased metabolic rate in warmer waters is a fascinating (and troubling) aspect of this crisis. For me, it highlights the sometimes unforeseen ways in which a change to habitat can impact species and it certainly is a risk for many different species as average temperatures change. -- LD

ultralightl8 karma

Are new fish moving into Arctic waters, and what would be the effects of that? I know that’s happening in the Atlantic with tuna appearing off the coast of the U.K. etc

bloombergopinion13 karma

I've seen less on species moving in and more on declines in existing species. For example, additions to the Alaska pollock stock are related to where the edge of the sea ice is, so NOAA have modeled that as Arctic ice retreats, the Bering Sea's pollock population drop 40% through 2050. Clearly, other species may move in. -- LD

simon_ritchie20007 karma

Are there any lessons we’re learning in Alaska that could be applied to the fishing industry globally? Which I guess is a roundabout way of asking about the chances of global wild fisheries collapsing in a similar way.

bloombergopinion22 karma

Alaska has actually been, in some ways, a good example of well-managed fisheries relative to the rest of the world. For example, Alaska's relative lack of industrialization has helped preserve salmon runs there that have been lost or damaged in, say, New England or California (eg, lack of dams on rivers).

The problem now is that it must reconfigure its approach as the environment changes there, and that includes rethinking regulation of its biggest earning sector, the pollock trawl fishery. We have seen wild fisheries collapse in many instances over the past couple of centuries, always because we have either changed the habitat, usually via industrialization, or overfished, particularly as boats became bigger and more powerful after the 1950s.

The broad lesson is that wild fisheries, like any resource that is 'mined', have natural limits and those limits are shifting as climate change alters the environment. -- LD

tompstash2 karma

What effect do commercial fisheries have on the food security of communities which depend on subsistence fishing? Other than limits on bycatch, what can be done to improve food security of those communities?

bloombergopinion7 karma

Commercial fishing's impact is varied. For some communities that are part of the Community Development Quota scheme, it provides vital funding. For others, it can exacerbate the decline in, eg. salmon runs. Bycatch limits help. So, too, would simply giving these villages more of a voice in the management of Alaska's fishery.

To date, they are underrepresented and even just getting to the public forums to give comments can be expensive and problematic given Alaska's scale and relative lack of roads. Even when they get there, having 3 minutes to essentially make a pitch for their entire lifestyle seems futile, not to mention humiliating.

Simply flying/boating in more food doesn't solve the issue given the expense, health issues and, most importantly, the traditions built around fishing. It really does begin with adopting a position that this way of life has value, and embedding that in regulation. -- LD