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Feature: The Bering-Aleutian Salmon International Survey (BASIS)

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scientists taking salmon scale samples
A member of the Ocean Carrying Capacity Program removes scales from juvenile sockeye salmon during a BASIS research cruise.

THE FISHERIES OCEANOGRAPHY SURVEY OF THE BERING SEA, KNOWN AS BASIS, is made possible by the international treaty that led to the organization of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC). The NPAFC was established under the Convention for the Conservation of Anadromous Stocks in the North Pacific Ocean effective February 1993 and includes Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States. The NPAFC Convention Area forms the world’s largest marine conservation area for seven species of Pacific salmon.

Drastic changes in physical and biological conditions in the Bering Sea during the 1990s in conjunction with extreme fluctuations in the abundance and growth of both North American and Asian salmon stocks prompted managers to call for more information on marine ecology of Pacific salmon. The coincidence of changes in the environment and salmon abundance and growth led to cooperative research on the mechanisms that link these changes. The response of NPAFC scientists was to develop an unprecedented and ambitious plan to sample the entire epipelagic ecosystem of the Bering Sea. This plan, the Bering-Aleutian Salmon International Survey, was designed to understand the biological response of salmon within an ecological context during a period of climate change. The Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Ocean Carrying Capacity Program, established in 1994, is responsible for BASIS research in U.S. waters.

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