Research center awards $500,000 to marine, fisheries scientists
Submitted by Carin Bailey Stephens
The Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has funded more than $500,000 for the study of Alaska's marine ecosystems.
The eight projects funded by the center this year include scientific studies of Alaska's fish species, educational support for fisheries students, an investigation into how scientists tag Steller sea lions and an analysis of the marine food chain in the Bering Sea.
Administered through the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, the PCCRC provides funding for peer-reviewed research of North Pacific fisheries, marine mammals and coastal ecosystem issues, as well as for training and education in issues important in Alaska's fisheries.
Nearly $85,000 was awarded to a scientist at the Fishery Industrial Technology Center to study the development of pollock liver oil as a nutritional supplement. If successful, pollock oil could join cod liver oil, salmon oil and other fish oils on supermarket shelves as a source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
Another project includes more than $50,000 to increase field research, internship and on-the-job training opportunities for UAF's fisheries undergraduates. A major component of the current expansion of the UAF fisheries program, project leaders say that training outside the classroom will help prepare students for jobs.
One project funded by the center includes sending data-gathering floats out into the fishing grounds of the Bering Sea to measure water temperatures. Information gathered from the instruments will be transmitted to scientists on a weekly basis and then posted on the Alaska Ocean Observing System website. The temperature data will provide important information on temperature changes as well as help Alaska's fishermen and fisheries managers determine fishing locations.
The research center was founded in 2000 with a donation from the Pollock Conservation Cooperative. The cooperative is composed of North Pacific pollock fishing companies of the At-sea Processors Association. These companies, Alaska Ocean Seafood, American Seafoods Company, Arctic Storm Management Group, Glacier Fish Company, Highland Light, Starbound LLC and Trident Seafoods, have funded 55 research projects and contributed more than $8.5 million to UAF for marine research and education. The group also provides funding for the Ted Stevens Distinguished Professor of Marine Policy.
The UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences conducts world-class marine and fisheries research, education and outreach across Alaska, the Arctic and Antarctic. 55 faculty scientists and 135 graduate students are engaged in building knowledge about Alaska and the world's coastal and marine ecosystems. SFOS is headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and serves the state from facilities located in Seward, Juneau, Anchorage and Kodiak.