Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Magazine Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8307
Author: Melissa R. Poe, Katya Wassillie
Year: 2015
Title: PACIFIC WALRUS AND COASTAL NATIVE ALASKA SUBSISTENCE HUNTING: CONSIDERING THE VULNERABILITIES FROM OCEAN ACIDIFICATION ON ECOLOGICAL FOOD WEBS, FOOD SECURITY AND CULTURAL CONTINUITY
Magazine: Earthzine
Summary:

This article discusses the societal impacts of ocean acidification to coastal Alaska Native communities in the Bering and Chukchi Seas, with a focus on Pacific walrus subsistence hunting communities. Iñupiaq, Central Yup’ik, and St. Lawrence Island Yupik communities face cumulative pressures from ocean changes, including the loss of sea ice, fisheries declines, and threats to culturally-important species, including the Pacific walrus. In recent years, diminished sea ice and unpredictable ice and walrus movement have resulted in reduced subsistence hunting and food shortages for Alaska Native communities. While there is much uncertainty about the range of ocean acidification impacts on walrus populations, their main food source, clams and other benthic invertebrates, is predicted to be negatively impacted. We highlight the cultural impacts of changes in marine foodwebs, including impacts to way of life, food security, and traditional knowledge for indigenous communities in Alaska’s Bering and Chukchi Seas.