FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (April 23, 2012)
Montreal, Canada — International Polar Year 2012: From Knowledge to Action
POPULATIONS OF ARCTIC MARINE MAMMALS AND FISH INCREASING, BIRDS ON EDGE OF DECLINE: FISH TRENDS LINKED TO CLIMATE OSCILLATIONS
Arctic marine mammals, fish, and birds are undergoing some surprising trends that, in some instances, can be partially linked to climate oscillations and changes in commercial harvest, according to a new report released by the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP), the cornerstone program of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the Arctic Council’s biodiversity working group.
The report identified that pelagic fishes (those living close to the surface of the water, as opposed to those living near the ocean bottom) were strongly linked to a large-scale climate oscillation (the Arctic Oscillation). This includes such commercially important species as Pacific herring, ocean perch and Arctic cisco.
“This was the thing that surprised us the most and illustrates the power of conducting large-scale analyses such as this,” says Mike Gill, Chair of the CBMP. “Understanding these linkages will improve management of these species.”
This linkage was able to help account for a dramatic increase of vertebrate species in the Pacific Ocean, and an average decline in the Atlantic Ocean. Other factors, including commercial harvest, help account for these differing trends as well.
The report is the result of new analysis of the Arctic Species Trend Index (ASTI), a tool that contains information on 890 populations of 323 species of Arctic vertebrates. The ASTI allows scientists to track broad trends in the Arctic’s living resources and identify potential causes of changes, whether they are responses to natural phenomena or human-induced stressors.
“The ASTI is a valuable tool. It is helping to conserve and protect the Arctic by reducing the time between the identification of a threat, and an effective evidence-based policy response,” says Gustav Lind, Senior Arctic Officials Chair of the Arctic Council. “This is the type of work that makes the Arctic Council the preeminent and authoritative voice in the Arctic.”
Other findings of interest
These recent ASTI analyses were a collaborative effort between the CBMP, the Zoological Society of London, and the World Wildlife Fund. Further information can be found at www.asti.is.
Chair, Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program
Executive Secretary, Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna