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AFSC Historical Corner:  1960 - 1969

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Alaska Fisheries Research Facility Opens in Juneau

Auke Bay Laboratory facility
The Auke Bay Laboratory, opened in 1960.  NOAA document photo.

As a result of a $405,647 grant to the Alaska Center in 1958 and 1959, the Auke Bay Laboratory was built near Juneau, Alaska. In December 1960, the project was completed and the lab opened to support the Alaska fisheries research programs. Two years later, construction began on the dock facilities and salt-water system.

In July 1960, a new Alaska fisheries exploration and gear research program was formed, based in Juneau. Its purpose was to obtain greater knowledge of the untapped fishery resources off the coast of Alaska so that orderly development of these resources may take place.

Also that year, in Seattle, Washington, the Bureau's northern fur seal and whale research studies were combined and designated as the Marine Mammal Biological Laboratory.

In 1962, the Bureau's first winter high-seas salmon survey cruise in the North Pacific found a significant concentration of immature red salmon in a broad area about 200 miles south of Kodiak Island. The survey also helped in the understanding of the distribution and survival of salmon at sea. Methods were developed to distinguish between North American and Asian pink salmon.

That same year, a 2-year emergency Alaska salmon research program concluded, having determined the carrying capacity of the freshwater spawning and nursery areas of the state. The program provided a better understanding of the Pacific salmon runs and their management, and also supplied the data needed for renegotiation of the International North Pacific Fisheries Convention in 1963.

By this time, scientific studies in Alaska included the long-established biological programs at Little Port Walter, Karluk, and Brooks Lakes. Newer projects were undertaken at Kasitsna Bay, Olsen Bay, Traitors Cove, Naknek River, Hollis, Old Tom Creek, Wood River, and Kvichak. Research expanded to focus on the environmental impacts on the growth and of young salmon.


Other significant events:

  • 1960 - Scientists began using radioactive materials in biological research.
     
  • 1961 - The Center's Marine Mammal Biological Laboratory conducted its first studies on bowhead whales.
     
  • 1961 - In response to increasing numbers of foreign vessels fishing along U.S. coasts, the Bureau increased its surveillance efforts to ascertain possible effects on U.S. fisheries.
     
  • 1962 - The transport ship George B. Kelez was acquired for the Seattle Laboratory from the U.S. Navy. The vessel allowed the Bureau's oceanographic and high-seas salmon studies to extend into the winter season for the first time.
     
  • 1962 - The Bureau made its first whale marking and observation cruise off southern California and northern Baja California to determine the condition of the North Pacific whale stocks and those pursued by the two U.S. whaling companies.
     
  • 1963 - U.S. biologists were placed on some Japanese trawlers and factory ships in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, obtaining data on the catch by species, area, and quantity, and on gear efficiency.
     
  • 1964 - The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries' Seattle Technological Laboratory initiated research on the Pacific whiting (hake), another potentially large fishery.
     
  • 1964 - The "Bartlett Act" of 20 May (Public Law 88-308), prohibited fishing in U.S. territorial waters by foreign-flag vessels unless allowed by treaty. The act established 3-mile territorial waters along most U.S. coastlines.
     
  • 1964 - Scientists at the Bureau's Seattle Biological Laboratory used the results of pioneering studies in serology, or blood group analysis, to identify several subpopulations of salmon in the eastern North Pacific Ocean.
     
  • 1965 - Seattle Biological Laboratory scientists found scale characters useful in distinguishing Asian from Bristol Bay, Alaska, sockeye salmon; and for identifying stocks of intermingled salmon in the Gulf of Alaska from various North American river systems. Pink salmon were also identified to their area of origin by scales.
     
  • 1966 - Marine resource concerns led Congress, under P.L. 89-454, to authorize on 17 June the creation of the "Commission on Marine Science, Engineering, and Resources." Later chaired by Julius A. Stratton of the Ford Foundation, it was simply called the "Stratton Commission." P.L. 89-454 also set up the National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development.
     
  • 1966 - In response to the increased foreign fishing activity off the U.S. coasts, Congress passed Public Law 89-658, extending the U.S. fisheries territorial sea to a 12-mile zone in which the United States would exercise the same exclusive rights in respect to fisheries as it has in its territorial sea.
     
  • 1966 - Scientists with the Ketchikan Technological Laboratory discovered a new method for peeling Alaska's pink shrimp quickly and for maintaining their quality and color, thus overcoming a major obstacle to commercial production.
     
  • 1966 - A biologist at the Auke Bay Biological Laboratory in Alaska devised a new type of lightweight, simple, and inexpensive plastic driftcard to chart surface ocean currents. A patent on it was secured for the Bureau.
     
  • 1966 - The Fur Seal Act was passed to protect the fur seal herd and administer the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea.
     
  • 1966 - Between late January and March, the MV G. B. Kelez and MV Argo conducted the first winter season oceanographic measurements in the western Subarctic region of the North Pacific Ocean.
     
  • 1967 - On 9 January, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the 15 members of the "Stratton Commission" who immediately began their study of the Nation's marine problems and needs.
     
  • 1967 - A new $4 million, 215-foot ocean research vessel, the Miller Freeman, was launched; being designed with laboratories and equipment especially for North Pacific oceanographic and fisheries studies.
     
  • 1968 - Scientists from the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (BCF) and Japan cooperatively studied several U.S. fish species as potential ingredients for "surimi," a frozen fish product used in Japan to make fish sausages and fish cakes. Studied were the spiny dogfish, starry flounder, and several Pacific coast rockfishes.
     
  • 1969 - The "Stratton Commission" presented its final report on 11 January and recommended the creation of a new Federal entity - a "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency" (NOAA) to include initially the BCF and other federal marine and anadromous fishery functions, the National Sea Grant College Program, and other agencies.
     
  • 1969 - Three BCF diver-scientists participated with the U.S. Navy, NASA, and other diver-scientists in the new TEKTITE I project. The scientists spent a record 2 months on the ocean floor, working from an underwater laboratory situated at a 50-foot depth.
     
  • 1969 - Scientists at the Seattle Biological Laboratory provided estimates of growth, mortality, and other data for Pacific whiting and Pacific ocean perch. This research formed the basis for the U.S. position in discussions with the U.S.S.R. to reduce the Soviet whiting fishery.
     
  • 1969 - Auke Bay Laboratory scientists provided U.S. negotiators and management agencies with background data on king crabs in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. The data helped U.S. representatives obtain a 48% reduction in the king crab quotas of Japan and the U.S.S.R.
     
  • 1969 - The Exploratory Fishing & Gear Research group based at the Montlake Laboratory (Seattle, WA) obtained its first SCUBA dive team.
     
  • 1969 - The Bureau and the University of California studied 175 female northern fur seals found at San Miguel Island, California; the first confirmed record of these seals breeding on other than the Pribilof Islands.
     


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