For the past several years, the Bering Sea Sub-Network (BSSN) has worked with local communities in western Alaska and eastern Russia to conduct community surveys and map spatial data relating to subsistence harvest and observed environmental change. The first wave of subsistence data is now available in the AOOS Ocean Data Explorer thanks to a partnership between BSSN and AOOS.
BSSN data available in the AOOS system shows harvest areas from Gambell for four years, and from Savoonga for two years. Users are able to filter data by species (salmon, bowhead whale, dolly varden, halibut, seal and walrus), season, and community. They can also view maps and graphs of harvest effort for a specific location of interest.
This is the first subsistence data to be entered into the AOOS data system, providing the ability to map community use areas with other data layers such as habitat areas, ship tracks, climate models, and sea ice extent.
BSSN is hopeful that the information will help communicate areas of particular importance for the well-being of Gambell and Savoonga residents, leading to greater recognition and protection of those areas in the face of rapid change. However, they would like to point out that the data visualization is just a piece of the whole picture and shouldn’t replace direct community consultation.
BSSN would like to thank the Community Research Assistants who were responsible for conducting interviews with ‘high harvesters’, all the residents that took the time to share their important knowledge with us, the IRA Councils of Gambell and Savoonga for providing review and guidance, the data management team at AOOS for their patience and expertise in visualizing these types of data, the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Resilience and Adaptive Management Group’s Drs. L. Alessa and A. Kliskey, the Arctic Council’s biodiversity working group the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) for their continued support, and the National Science Foundation for funding this work. If you would like more information on the project, contact Maryann Fidel at email@example.com.
AOOS and BSSN will be continuing to add data from this project into the AOOS portal. Next in the queue are subsistence layers from Kanchalan, Russia.