Canadian Beaufort Sea - Marine Ecosystem Assessment 2018

Canadian Beaufort Sea - Marine Ecosystem Assessment 2018

Map: Canadian Beaufort Sea - Marine Ecosystem Assessment. Sampling sites of the 2018 Marine Environmental Assessment of the Canadian Beaufort Sea. © Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Map: Canadian Beaufort Sea - Marine Ecosystem Assessment. Sampling sites of the 2018 Marine Environmental Assessment of the Canadian Beaufort Sea. © Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

About the mission

This summer will be the fifth year, since 2012, that a team of DFO scientists will take sail aboard the research ship F/V Frosti in Canada’s Arctic for a comprehensive marine ecosystem assessment, from August 1 to September 12. The goal of the Canadian Beaufort Sea- Marine Ecosystem Assessment (CBS-MEA) research mission is to understand changes occurring in the Beaufort Sea ecosystem.

These changes will be examined to assess how they can influence:

  • Biodiversity and food-webs
  • Ecological linkages (connections) between coastal and marine habitats
  • How species will respond to additional marine stressors such as Arctic shipping, oil and gas development, and ocean acidification

To answer these challenging questions, scientists study the ecosystem on many levels, from small bacteria to Bowhead whales. Many disciplines of Arctic science are integrated with expert partners from the University of Manitoba, Université Laval, Memorial University, and McGill University to gain a full and comprehensive understanding of the relationships between species and their habitats.

The research program is designed in consultation with Inuvialuit co-management partners, including the Inuvialuit Game Council, with representatives from the communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The local community members play a key role in participating in science operations during the research mission aboard F/V Frosti.

The livelihoods and culture of the Inuvialuit are dependent on the health and resilience of the Beaufort Sea ecosystem. Through this science mission, scientists and Inuvialuit work together to gain greater insight into the interconnectivities and complex changes occurring in the Arctic. Through science, management, and traditional knowledge, participants are able to learn more about changing Arctic conditions and acquire crucial knowledge to ensure a sustainable future for the Beaufort Sea ecosystem.

Research tools and techniques

CBS-MEA is unique from other Arctic ecosystem research programs in that it includes a specialized vessel, tools, and techniques to assess the role and populations of Arctic marine fishes in the offshore marine ecosystem, particularly important fish species like Arctic cod, Greenland Halibut and Capelin.

The research ship F/V Frosti is designed specifically for scientific sampling of fish, towing fishing nets, as well as supporting habitats and food-web components, all crucial elements for the CBS-MEA.

Fact: since 2012, CBS-MEA has verified 16 new marine fish species (12 pending expert taxonomic identification) that were previously not known to exist in the Canadian Beaufort Sea.

At each sampling site, a water sampler (Rosette) equipped with multiple oceanographic instruments is used to sample physical, chemical, and biological properties from the top to the bottom of the water column. Next, using a combination of bongo nets and a vertical multi-depth plankton sampler, zooplankton is sampled to determine which species (and how many) occupy the water column habitat. Seafloor sediments are also sampled using a box-core to characterize bottom habitats and to examine the types of animals that live under the surface of the seafloor. Finally, a 3m beam trawl and larger Atlantic Western IIA bottom-tending otter trawl are deployed to sample the fish and invertebrate communities that live on the seafloor. A hull-mounted hydroacoustic system is used, sending sound waves to the seafloor to assess distributions and amounts of fish and plankton species in the water in real time.

The team
Principal Investigators
  • Andrew Majewski - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Dr. Andrea Niemi - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Dr. Jim Reist - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Dr. Robert Young - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Dr. Ashley Stasko - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Dr. Christine Michel - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Dr. Bill Williams - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Dr. Philippe Archambault - Université Laval
  • Dr. Maxime Geoffroy - Memorial University
Chief Scientists
  • Andrew Majewski - Leg 1 (August 1 - 22)
  • Dr. Ashley Stasko - Leg 2 (August 23 - September 12)
Science Staff
  • Alexis Burt - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Glenn Cooper - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Valérie Cypihot - Université Laval
  • Jane Eert - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Rachel Hussherr - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Christie Morrison - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Amanda Timmerman - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Krystal Woodward - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Inuvialuit Participants
  • Terrence Green - (Paulatuk)
  • Kyle Wolki - (Sachs Harbour)
Shore Support
  • Chantelle Sawatzky - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Oksana Schimnowski - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
The F / V Frosti. © Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

The F/V Frosti. © Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

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