The Bering Sea/Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea form one of the richest, most pristine and biologically productive ocean systems on the planet. The same unique characteristics that support this area’s productivity – particularly the annual variations in sea ice – make this region especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Challenges & Emerging Strategies : Climate change is altering whale migration timing and pushing migration routes farther from shore, disrupting vital subsistence traditions and forcing hunters to travel farther into hazardous seas. Growing vessel traffic requires establishing rules for shipping routes and vessel noise, and creating capacity for local oil spill response.
Challenges & Emerging Strategies: Arctic wildlife and people have evolved sophisticated ways of living based on sea ice. Lose the ice, and lose the platform that walrus, seals and eiders use to hunt, rest, or raise their young. And local people lose both safe places to hunt and cultural traditions based on subsistence life. Response strategies include managing new onshore walrus haulouts, and devising tools so hunters have real-time sea ice information.
Challenges & Emerging Strategies: Climate change impacts will modify and likely decrease key fish species, affecting everything from subsistence to jobs and government tax revenues. Needed responses include better environmental monitoring and a new generation of regulations dynamic enough to keep up with a changing climate.
The abudnant life in the Bering Sea region emerges from a complex web of physical, chemical and biological building blocks. Climate change is altering the structure of this system. This in turn could dramatically change what the ecosystem provides, including subsistence food on the table and the basis for this region's robust commercial fishing industry.