Proposed Abstract Title

The Pseudo-nitzschia bloom of May 2015 - Impacts on culturally and economically important fisheries of the Quinault Indian Nation

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Climate Change and Culturally Important Foods, Resources, and Places in the Salish Ecosystem

Location

2016SSEC

Description

The people of the Quinault Indian Nation have been harvesting fish and shellfish on the coast of what is now Washington State for millennia. Of particular cultural and economic importance are two species, the Pacific razor clam, Siliqua patula, and Dungeness crab, Metacarcinus magister.

In the spring of 2015, the largest bloom of toxic Pseudo-nitzschia genus (PN) diatoms yet documented came ashore on the west coast of the U.S. and began impacting shellfish and other marine animals. This Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) event was concurrent with a large warm-water mass that began developing in 2014 in the Gulf of Alaska eventually extending south and joining with warm waters generated by a developing El Niño in equatorial waters. The 2015 HAB eventually extended from SE Alaska to southern California generating significant amounts of the potent neurotoxin, domoic acid.

The Quinault Nation was conducting ongoing regulated fisheries for razor clams and Dungeness crab in April, 2015 when HAB samplers including Quinault staff recorded increasing numbers of PN in surf water samples taken along the Washington coast. By May, razor clam samples were showing rapidly increasing levels of domoic acid and razor clam fisheries were closed by emergency regulation. Quinault clam diggers lost most of the month of May to domoic acid closure, generally one of the best harvest months. Closures expanded to the Dungeness crab fishery later in the summer ending harvest of this economically important species for tribal and non-tribal harvesters.

Cultural and financial impacts from these HAB closures continued through 2015 deeply impacting Quinault and other communities on the Washington coast and beyond.

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The Pseudo-nitzschia bloom of May 2015 - Impacts on culturally and economically important fisheries of the Quinault Indian Nation

2016SSEC

The people of the Quinault Indian Nation have been harvesting fish and shellfish on the coast of what is now Washington State for millennia. Of particular cultural and economic importance are two species, the Pacific razor clam, Siliqua patula, and Dungeness crab, Metacarcinus magister.

In the spring of 2015, the largest bloom of toxic Pseudo-nitzschia genus (PN) diatoms yet documented came ashore on the west coast of the U.S. and began impacting shellfish and other marine animals. This Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) event was concurrent with a large warm-water mass that began developing in 2014 in the Gulf of Alaska eventually extending south and joining with warm waters generated by a developing El Niño in equatorial waters. The 2015 HAB eventually extended from SE Alaska to southern California generating significant amounts of the potent neurotoxin, domoic acid.

The Quinault Nation was conducting ongoing regulated fisheries for razor clams and Dungeness crab in April, 2015 when HAB samplers including Quinault staff recorded increasing numbers of PN in surf water samples taken along the Washington coast. By May, razor clam samples were showing rapidly increasing levels of domoic acid and razor clam fisheries were closed by emergency regulation. Quinault clam diggers lost most of the month of May to domoic acid closure, generally one of the best harvest months. Closures expanded to the Dungeness crab fishery later in the summer ending harvest of this economically important species for tribal and non-tribal harvesters.

Cultural and financial impacts from these HAB closures continued through 2015 deeply impacting Quinault and other communities on the Washington coast and beyond.