New SeaBank Annual Report Makes Business Case for Protecting Coastal Ecosystems in Southeast Alaska
SeaBank’s New Annual Report Makes Business Case for Protection Coastal ecosystems of Southeast Alaska
04 December 2021
(SitNews) Sitka, Alaska – In November, the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust released its third annual SeaBank report which quantifies the value of ecosystem services generated by Southeast Alaska’s rich natural capital and also identifies potential risks for them, including climate change, industrial logging, and bycatch from industrial trawl fisheries. The 2020 report focuses on recent research related to the impacts of climate change on Southeast Alaska, including projections of much warmer temperatures under different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, as well as Recommended mitigation measures that would help protect SeaBank’s green and blue carbon.
The Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust coined the term “SeaBank” to describe Southeast Alaska’s diverse coastline, which stretches 500 miles from Metlakatla to Yakutat and its interconnected network of land, water, vegetation, wildlife, resources, economics and culture. She launched the SeaBank program in 2017 to perform several functions, including raising awareness of the Southeast Alaska Natural Bank, measuring the annual capital provided by this bank, and quantifying the value generated for local, state and national beneficiaries. global.
“As our region assesses resource management decisions and develops climate change adaptation strategies, we believe it is essential that stakeholders and policy makers take into account the true value of SeaBank’s ecosystem services in order to that we can make informed long-term decisions that ensure more sustainable economies and local communities, ”said Linda Behnken, founder of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust and Sitka-based commercial fisherman.
Here are some highlights from the SeaBank 2020 report:
The physical and biological diversity of SeaBank’s salmon-producing watersheds are unique on a global scale. Southeast Alaska has one of the two largest remaining productive salmon systems in the world, thanks in large part to natural capital assets that include the largest expanse of virtually untouched coastal temperate rainforest on the planet.
SeaBank’s Coastal Temperate Rainforest is an irreplaceable carbon sink of global significance. Old-growth forests store much more carbon than other forests, making them essential for climate regulation. The carbon storage capacity of living trees in SeaBank’s forests is almost twice as high as in other US forests. Preserving the region’s many maturing second-growth forests is also essential as the increase in carbon footprint is greatest for trees 100-200 years old.
Three-quarters of all fish caught in Southeast Alaska use the region’s estuaries for part of their life cycle, including major groundfish species like halibut, sablefish, cod and redfish. Salmon cross estuaries twice – during the out migration as smolts, and then when they return to spawn.
The two largest private sector economies in Southeast Alaska are the commercial fishing and seafood processing industry, which supports more than 10,000 jobs, and the tourism products industry, which generates an annual economic impact of one billion dollars.
Warming temperatures due to climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as record heat, intense precipitation associated with atmospheric rivers, marine heat waves and other abnormal weather events.
Seagrass beds and kelp forests in particular are very vulnerable ecosystems with a low capacity to move and a high sensitivity to ocean warming, marine heat waves and acidification.
Low marine productivity is becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change. These changes in the productivity of the marine environment increase the importance of protecting the freshwater habitat of salmon populations from the high levels of habitat degradation caused by industrial logging.
Federally managed trawl fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea kill highly migratory and valuable fish (e.g. halibut, sablefish, chinook salmon) that would otherwise find their way to migrate, mature, inhabit and / or spawn in the waters of southeast Alaska.
“The SeaBank 2020 report highlights that Southeast Alaska is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world,” Behnken said. “These coastal ecosystems are also incredibly vulnerable to rapidly warming climate and industrial activities that are decreasing the productivity and overall value of Southeast Alaska. This is why it is so important that we do all we can to protect the region’s natural capital, forests, rivers and estuaries, restoring Roadless Rule protections for Tongass National Forest. It is not only the right thing to do for our planet, but also for economic health and the resilience of our region. ”
On the Web:
Download and read SeaBank’s 2020 Annual Report (121 pages)
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust
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