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Alaska trollers gather year-round data

May 19, 2023

Skipper Science CTD

Fishermen attach instruments slightly larger than a water bottle to their gear to profile the water column in a new partnership with the Alaska Trollers Association. Photo by Jim Moore.

Salmon fishermen are collecting data near fishing spots and along transit routes as part of the new Southeast Alaska Trolling Vessel Ocean Measurement program. The Alaska Trollers Association leads the project in partnership with AOOS, Alaska Sea Grant, and UAF. 

“It is great to have a community-led observation program, and to work with the trollers as an organization eager to conduct science,” said UAF research assistant professor Tyler Hennon, who is the principal investigator of the project. 

Since August of 2022, participating trollers have conducted vertical profiles of the water column using hand-held CTD’s attached to their gear. Hennon explained that regular measurements of temperature, salinity, and pressure will help establish a baseline for seasonal cycles of ocean mixing. These processes affect how nutrients from the deep Pacific are brought to the surface and distributed around Southeast Alaska. One of the CTD’s is also capable of measuring chlorophyll and detected the beginning of the spring phytoplankton bloom near Sitka. 

Fishermen are currently taking measurements in Frederick Sound, Sitka, and Chatham Strait. The program will expand to include waters near Juneau, Wrangell and Ketchikan. More CTD that are capable of measuring chlorophyll will be added to the fleet this year. 

CONTACT: Carol Janzen, Janzen@AOOS.org