Canadian Beaufort Sea - Marine Ecosystem Assessment 2019

Canadian Beaufort Sea - Marine Ecosystem Assessment 2019

Map: Canadian Beaufort Sea - Marine Ecosystem Assessment. Sampling sites of the 2019 Marine Environmental Assessment of the Canadian Beaufort Sea. © Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

About the mission

A team of DFO scientists, university partners and community members will take sail aboard the research ship F/V Frosti in Canada’s Arctic for a comprehensive marine ecosystem assessment, August 1 to September 11, 2019. The goal of the Canadian Beaufort Sea-Marine Ecosystem Assessment (CBS-MEA) is to understand changes occurring in the Beaufort Sea ecosystem. The scientists study the ecosystem on many levels, from small bacteria to Bowhead whales using a variety of sampling tools. 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 comprehensive understanding of relationships between species and their habitats.

In 2019, CBS-MEA is also integrated with multiple other research and community-based missions occurring in the Beaufort Sea. The cooperation between missions generates needed ecosystem-based information for the management of highly mobile species such as beluga and bowhead whales.

CBS-MEA is designed in consultation with Inuvialuit co-management partners, including the Inuvialuit Game Council, with representatives from the communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Community members play a key role as part of the science team aboard F/V Frosti.

The health and resilience of the Beaufort Sea ecosystem is a priority for Inuit in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. CBS-MEA address priorities shared by the communities, providing new knowledge required to understand how species will be influenced by marine stressors such as Arctic shipping, oil and gas development, and ocean acidification.

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 station, 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 then sampled using a box-corer 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 while sailing to assess distributions and amounts of fish and plankton species in the water.

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)
  • Jane Eert - Leg 2 (August 23 - September 11)

Science Staff

  • Caitlin Allison - AAE Tech Services
  • Alexis Burt - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Valérie Cypihot - Université Laval
  • Mike Dempsey - Fisheres and Oceans Canada
  • Ashley Ehrman - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Rachel Hussherr - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Christie Morrison - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Krystal Woodard - Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Inuvialuit Participants

  • Corrine Dillon - (Aklavik)
  • Samuel Lennie - (Inuvik)

Shore Support

  • Mark Ouellette - 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).

Photo gallery

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