Aleutian Islands Integrated Ecosystem Assessment

The goal of the Aleutian Islands Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) is to provide the ecosystem science and management advice necessary for marine natural resource managers to effectively manage the Aleutian Islands marine ecosystem. The Aleutian Islands IEA supports Ecosystem-Based Management through partnership with coastal communities, commercial and recreational fishermen, and natural resource managers.

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Aleutian Island Ecosystem

The Aleutian Islands Large Marine Ecosystem is part of the Aleutian-Commander Island archipelago that extends more than 3,000 km between Alaska and Russia, and forms the southern border of the Bering Sea. The Aleutian islands are broken into three regions based on different ecology and oceanographic factors. The islands are mostly peaks of steep submarine volcanoes, with exposed portions surrounded by limited shallow sea floor shelves descending rapidly to deep waters. This subarctic region is moderately productive with strong interactions between shelf and deep-sea habitats. The richness in marine life includes large concentrations of seabirds, marine mammals, sessile invertebrates, and fish. Commercially important species include crab, Atka mackerel, cod, and other groundfish. Stressors on the ecosystem include shipping (and shipping-related oil spills), military operations, climate warming, and fishing.

Informing management

Alaska has been engaged in Ecosystem-Based Management for a long time. The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council has actively engaged in bringing Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management into management decisions in the Aleutian Islands through the creation of the Aleutian Islands Fisheries Ecosystem Plan. Data from scientific surveys and observations inform stock and ecosystem assessments. Ecosystem indicators based on physical, biological, and human dimensions provide ecosystem context to annual fisheries management decisions on fishing catch limits.