Alaska Fishermen’s ‘Skipper Science’ Project Reveals Climate Change Data

The following press release is courtesy of the Salmon Habitat Information Program and its partners:

This summer, boat captains and crews took the lead by documenting changes in real time.

ANCHORAGE– The Aleut Community of St. Paul Island Tribal Government and SalmonState’s Salmon Habitat Information Program (SHIP), along with commercial fishing industry partners, this summer kicked off a groundbreaking Skipper Science program enlisting more than 100 commercial fishermen to collect ecological observations, including changes in fisheries and ocean conditions. One of Skipper Science’s key tools is a smartphone app that allows fishermen to log observations in real time from the fishing grounds — meaning they became citizen scientists cataloging conditions that may be related to climate change. 

Highlights from the 2021 program include: 

  • 100 fishermen signed up for the program  
  • 19 Alaska-based fishing trade organizations supported and endorsed the program, demonstrating strong interest from the industry
  • 1,697 fishermen provided their opinions on climate change via phone interviews  
  • 49 data entries completed in the SkipperScience app by participants

“Skipper Science is already a valuable resource for researchers, managers and policy-makers — and with every season, it will grow more valuable. With this summer’s results, it’s clear fishermen are up for the work of using technology to contribute their observations and knowledge to the data set. In concert with Alaska’s fishing fleets, we can meet the challenges of fishing and managing sustainable fisheries in a changing climate, ensuring commercial fishing economies remain strong for generations to come,” said Lauren Divine, Director of the Ecosystem Conservation Office for the Tribal Government of St. Paul. 

“The amount of participation and interest from the industry, commercial fishing groups and fishermen was so positive. We were blown away by the amount of organizations and associations willing to endorse and support this project,” said Lindsey Bloom, Manager of the Salmon Habitat Information Program. “The success of the 2021 pilot program bodes well for a future in which fishermen’s input in data collection and policy making is supported and amplified. We are very excited about all that is to come for the future of this collaboration!”