Graduate Project

 

An internship at NWAFC : The Bering Sea crab database Public Deposited

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  • I served an internship with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center (NWAFC), Resource Assessment and Conservation Engineering (RACE) division in Seattle, Washington from June, 1983 to December, 1983. This experience proved to be very rewarding because of the techniques I learned, the job experience I gained and for the glimpse of what my future in marine fisheries management might hold for me. At the same time, I performed a valuable service for the RACE division. The RACE division is primarily concerned with groundfish management in the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering Sea, and the Northeast Pacific. Yearly surveys in these areas are taken for the purpose of regulating fishing seasons and collecting scientific data. The groundfish data collected during the survey cruises are stored in RACEBASE, the RACE division's computerized database. RACEBASE contains data from approximately 30 years of research, representing over 20,000 trawls and 1.2 million groundfish records (Mintel and Smith, 1981). It is supported by an extensive and easily-used set of documented software. The crab data collected during the survey cruises is stored on magnetic tape at the NWAFC and is maintained by the RACE division in Kodiak, Alaska. This database is not readily accessible to NWAFC researchers. Therefore, while RACEBASE has been used extensively by NWAFC scientists for their research, the crab database has been used only for yearly stock assessments and decisions concerning crab fishery management even though it contains a tremendous amount of other useful biological data. Under the direction of Dr. Murray Hayes, director of the RACE division at NWAFC, Dr. Lewis Incze and I began some of the first research using this crab database. We were particularly interested in studying red king crab (Paralithodes camtschatica). During the years preceding 1981, the abundance of red king crab in the southeastern Bering Sea had supported one of the most successful fisheries in the world. After 1981, however, the population underwent a dramatic decline. Pressure from economic interests and the potential danger to the crab population prompted RACE to begin research into the causes of the population's decline. Because man's effect on this resource is minimal, we wanted to use the crab database to determine what environmental aspects could have played a role in the decline. My contribution to the investigation had two parts. First, to make the crab files compatible with the software for RACEBASE and secondly, to work with these new files to find the youngest crab reliably caught in the yearly surveys and to compute population abundance indices.
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