This proposal is the result of W17 “Scoping an IEA of the Northern Bering-Chukchi Seas Large Marine Ecosystem (LME)”, held October 16, 2019.
The workshop was chaired by Libby Logerwell (USA), Kirstin Holsman (USA), Raychelle Daniel (USA, The Pew Charitable Trusts) and
Yutaka Watanuki (Japan). There were 19 attendees representing PICES member nations (USA, Japan, Russia, China and Canada), partner
organizations (ICES and IASC), funding agencies (North Pacific Research Board), international collaborators (IMR Norway) and Indigenous
organizations (Bering Sea Elders Group). Plenary and breakout group discussions accomplished an effective scoping of an Integrated Ecosystem
Assessment of the Northern Bering Sea – Chukchi Sea LME. The scoping entailed:
Review of recent research, scope of Indigenous Knowledge available, activities and priorities related to an IEA of Arctic Ecosystems
Review of the scientific interest, community interest, data availability and overall feasibility of conducting such an IEA for the Northern Bering-Chukchi Sea region
Assessment of the opportunities to partner with other organizations to address the issues identified above
The participants of the workshop unanimously agreed to pursue a new Working Group to conduct an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment of the Northern
Bering Sea – Chukchi Sea (NBS-CS) LME. In particular, participants from WG39 (WGICA) on the Central Arctic Ocean, PAME, and ICES, noted that:
A PICES WG on the Northern Bering-Chukchi Sea region would provide detailed assessment of the Pacific Arctic gateway, and would be a complement to the Atlantic gateways IEAs supported through ICES, all of which are linked through the PICES Central Arctic Ocean WG
It would also provide detailed information that will inform understanding of connectivity of climate and ocean processes, species movements, shelf foodweb dynamics, fishing, trade, subsistence and food security, and human activities beyond the focal scope of WG39/WGICA but of critical importance to the CAO (and therefore identified as a needed component of future analyses).
In turn a PICES WG on the NBS-CS would be informed by the findings of WG39/WGICA beyond the scope of the new WG but of increasing importance, especially for the NBS where multiple Pacific stocks are increasingly redistributing poleward under warming conditions.
The Northern Bering Sea-Chukchi Sea (NBS-CS) region is experiencing unprecedented ocean warming and loss of sea ice as a result of climate change. Seasonal sea ice declines and warming temperatures have been more prominent in the northern Bering and Chukchi seas as almost all other portions of the Arctic. Chronic and sudden changes in climate conditions in this Arctic gateway are increasingly impacting marine species and food-webs and expanding opportunities for commercial activities (shipping, oil and gas development and fishing), with uncertain and potentially wide-spread cumulative impacts. There are strong concerns about the impacts of climate change and industrial activities, and these impacts may be particularly pronounced in Arctic indigenous communities dependent on the health and stability of the ecosystem. The combination of unprecedented, rapid change and increased interest in the Arctic in general and the NBS-CS specifically make this an opportune time for a synthesis of issues and knowledge. An Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) can accomplish this synthesis.