Primary Production and Fisheries

The Bering Sea and especially its eastern shelf is one of the most productive areas of the world's oceans. The average primary production exceeds 125 g C m-2 per year over most of the shelf and is as high as 175-275 g C m-2 per year in the so-called "Green Belt," the extremely productive shelf edge area along the Eastern Bering Sea Shelf, Koryak Coast, and Kamchatka Peninsula, off Anadyr Gulf and in Chirikov Basin. The most commercially important fish species are currently pollock, cod, salmon, and flounder. Other species such as herring, yellowfin sole, rockfish, and halibut were important in the past and might become important again in the future. Bristol Bay and Aleutian Islands are the most important crab fishery grounds. Production at higher trophic levels can be measured by annual commercial fisheries landings, up to 2 million tons, or the total estimated biomass ever attained by the most abundant commercially important species, pollock, up to 20 million tons in the mid-1980s. During that period, the total annual fisheries landings in the Bering Sea peaked at 4.7 million tons or nearly 7% of the global catch. The biomass and landings of many species declined drastically partly because of overfishing and partly due to climate change (so-called "regime shifts"), since the Bering Sea is believed to be an area where the global climate warming signal amplifies.

Igor Belkin

See also Aleutian Islands; Arctic Ocean; Bering Strait; Bering, Vitus; Commander Islands; North Pacific; St Lawrence Island

Further Reading

Coachman, L.K., "Circulation, water masses, and fluxes on the southeastern Bering Sea shelf." Continental Shelf Research, 5(1/2) (1986): 23-108 Loughlin, T.R. & K. Ohtani (editors), Dynamics of the Bering Sea, University of Alaska Sea Grant, AK-SG-99-03, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1999 Mathisen, O.A. & K.O. Coyle (editors), Ecology of the Bering Sea: A Review of Russian Literature, University of Alaska Sea Grant Report No. 96-01, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1996 National Research Council, The Bering Sea Ecosystem, Washington, District of Columbia: National Academy Press, 1996

Schumacher, J.D. & P.J. Stabeno, "Continental shelf of the Bering Sea.'The Sea, Volume 11, edited by A.R. Robinson and K.H. Brink, New York: Wiley, 1998, pp. 789-822 Springer, A.M., C.P. McRoy & M.V. Flint, "The Bering Sea Green Belt: shelf-edge processes and ecosystem production." Fisheries Oceanography, 5(3/4) (1996): 205-223 Terziev, F.S. (editor), Hydrometeorology and Hydrochemistry of the Seas, Volume X, Bering Sea, Issue 1, Hydrometeorological Conditions, Rosgidromet, Gidrometeoizdat, St Petersburg, 1999, 300pp (in Russian)

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