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Co-chairs: Brynn Devine (University of Windsor)

Maxime Geoffroy (Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Jonathan Fisher (Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland)

 

Changing Arctic sea-ice dynamics and temperatures are altering the abundance and spatial distributions of marine fishes as well as their prey and predators. Boreal pelagic species like capelin (Mallosus villosus), herring (Clupea harengus), sand lance (Ammodytes spp.) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) are increasingly present in the southern Arctic regions, which may lead to the displacement of Arctic endogenous species and modify local food webs. Higher productivity and access to new fisheries grounds have led to increased fishing activity in the Arctic over the past decade. While this increase is in part related to the northward range expansion of commercially-important sub-Arctic fish stocks, for instance pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) in the Bering Sea and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the Barents Sea, Baffin Bay/Davis Strait commercial fisheries mainly target the endogenous Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) and Northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis). However, these established commercial as well as subsistence Arctic fishing activities may be constrained by warming waters and are expected to move northward, with potential economic and cultural impacts for northern communities. Important knowledge gaps on fish populations and ecology persist and have led to fishing moratoriums in the Beaufort Sea and the Central Arctic Ocean. In most of the high Arctic, the ubiquitous Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) dominates the pelagic fish assemblage. Despite the ecological importance of this key species for higher predators, it is still unclear how the combined effect of longer-ice free seasons, warmer temperatures and increased competition from boreal species will impact Arctic cod and its ecosystem. Moreover, little is known on the dynamics of boreal species in the low temperatures, seasonal ice-cover and low irradiance prevailing during the Arctic winter. Addressing these knowledge gaps is critical to inform science-based management and ensure the sustainability of existing and emerging fisheries in the Arctic.

This topical session seeks to advance our understanding of present and future responses of both commercially and non-commercially harvested fish to climate change. We encourage contributions that broadly focus on the ecology of fish species and other key ecosystem components that are likely to undergo distribution changes in the Arctic, as well as on existing and emerging commercial and subsistence fisheries issues.