State of the Physical, Biological and Selected Fishery Resources of Pacific Canadian Marine Ecosystems in 2015
Peter C. Chandler, Stephanie A. King and R. Ian Perry (Editors)

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Abstract

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for the management and protection of marine resources on the Pacific coast of Canada. An annual State of the Pacific Ocean meeting is held to review the physical, biological and selected fishery resources and present the results of the most recent year’s monitoring in the context of previous observations and expected future conditions. The workshop to review conditions in 2015 was held March 1 and 2, 2016 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo, B.C. The waters off Canada’s west coast experience strong seasonality and considerable freshwater influence and include relatively protected regions such as the Strait of Georgia as well as areas fully exposed to the open ocean conditions of the Pacific. The region supports ecologically and economically important resident and migratory populations of invertebrates, groundfish, pelagic fishes, marine mammals and seabirds.

Observations of the marine environment in 2015 identified the continued presence of a large pool of very warm water in the Northeast Pacific Ocean (colloquially known as the “Blob”) with surface waters over 3 °C above normal at its peak in July. The equatorial water of the eastern Pacific also began to warm and by the fall of 2015 a strong El Niño was building. By the end of 2015 the warm surface water anomaly in the Northeast Pacific Ocean had decreased to about 1 °C above normal, while the subsurface waters to a depth of 100 m still remained significantly warmer than normal. These ocean conditions influenced the weather experienced during 2015, and impacted the biological ecosystems on regional and local scales, including changes at the base of the food web such as exceptional blooms of phytoplankton, unusually high abundances of gelatinous zooplankton, and range extension northwards of plankton and fish species more commonly found further south.

A special session at the meeting was convened to focus on the monitoring and research being undertaken on the freshwater conditions relevant to the health of anadromous fish populations.

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