Research Proposal Overview

The PCCRC is interested in soliciting research proposals from fisheries scientists, biologists, chemists, engineers, and social scientists that lend expertise to advancing its research priorities. These research priorities are updated annually and reflect the changing demands and challenges that are required in sustainably managing Alaska's marine resources. Letter's of Intent (LOI), abbreviated project proposals, are solicited annually in August after the advisory board has revised the research centers research priorities. An approximate timeline for research proposal submission is detailed below. The collaborative nature between the Pollock Conservation Cooperative (PCC) and UAF’s School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences dictates that proposals must include a principle investigator affiliated with the University of Alaska. Current and past research project descriptions can be found here.

The PCCRC also offers Graduate Fellowships (dependent on available funds) through a separate request for proposals that occurs following research proposal funding decisions. The PCCRC fellowship is detailed below and previous award winners can be found here.  If interested in how the funds are allocated by discipline, research theme, or focal species have a look at our interacting funding graphic.

Timeline

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2019 PCCRC Research Priorities

I. Pollock Stock Dynamics — Research dedicated to improved biological data on the pollock stock.

  1. The effects of water temperature, especially warming water, on the phenology of pollock roe maturation.

  2. The effect of temporal and spatial variations in pollock diets and condition on fatty acid profiles in pollock.

  3. The relationship between pollock recruitment and the abundance, composition, and distribution of lower trophic (phytoplankton and zooplankton) species.

  4. Variation in growth rates of pollock (changes in mean body mass at age, length-weight patterns) in space and time.

  5. Predation impacts on pollock, especially by salmon.

  6. Investigations into alternative stock assessment model structure, alternative data weighting techniques, techniques for estimating latent variables (random effects), and estimation of variance in mixed error models using AD Model Builder or Template Model Builder. Proposals exploring the potential policy implications of model changes, or data weighting changes are strongly encouraged.

II. Stock Dynamics and Discard Mortality of Incidental Species — Research dedicated to improved biological data on species incidentally caught in North Pacific groundfish fisheries (sharks, skates, octopus, squid, sculpins, crab, halibut, salmon, etc.) to better quantify potential effects on those stocks and to improve estimates of discard mortality.

  1. Compare herring genetic composition on overwintering grounds and spawning grounds to ascertain population structure.

  2. Develop a more detailed understanding of seasonal spatial distribution patterns of Western Alaska and Asian origin chum salmon. E.g., plot chum salmon genetic samples using VMS haul data in a GIS or similar database to refine existing work that only identifies samples as caught either west or east of 170.

  3. Develop basic life history information (e.g., natural mortality, growth, size at maturity) for data poor stocks (squids, sharks, etc.) incidentally caught in pollock fisheries.

  4. Determine effects of migration on halibut population structure and management. Explore potential impacts of spawner per recruit associated with size-specific natural mortality and migration.

  5. Improve resolution of the Chinook and chum salmon genetic stock identification methods.

  6. Evaluate current(3-River index)and alternative management strategies for determining “low abundance” in Western Alaska Chinook salmon populations.

  7. Improve understanding and appropriateness of Western Alaska Chinook and chum salmon spawning abundance (escapement) targets (Smsy).

III. Habitat & Ecosystems — Research dedicated to assisting in the evaluation of habitat and ecosystem considerations.

  1. Increased information on impacts of various fishing gear on benthic habitat structure and function.

  2. More detailed mapping of BSAI habitats and corresponding recovery times following fishing impacts through, for example, comparing areas open and closed to fishing.

  3. Investigate the influence of habitat on the abundance, recruitment, reproduction, and natural mortality of FMP fish populations.

  4. Research on ecosystem response to ocean warming particularly relating to lipid-rich zooplankton abundance and juvenile pollock abundance and survival.

  5. Develop empirical indicators that link ecosystem variability in the Bering Sea and changes to variability in growth, survival, and recruitment of pollock and Pacific cod stocks. Large-scale ecosystem changes in, e.g., sea-surface temperatures, sea ice coverage, zooplankton abundance, etc., could be indicators that growth, survival, and recruitment of fish stocks might be impacted and would be useful for linking ecosystem changes directly to management-relevant reference points such as OFL and ABC.

IV. Fishery Management- Research dedicated to evaluating current fisheries management strategy and potential need for regulatory flexibility to adapt to ever changing environmental conditions.

  1. Re-analysis of BSAI management closure areas (specifically herring) and their present and future efficacy as ocean warming affects the spatial distribution of fish populations.

  2. Analyze the costs and impacts to the BSAI pollock fishery of recent Council PSC and bycatch management measures, including the interaction among PSC and bycatch reduction initiatives (e.g. halibut, salmon, crab). Focus should be given to incentives that cost- effectively reduce PSC.

  3. Cooperative industry research designed to mitigate bycatch and PSC through gear modification and changes in fishing practices.

V. Protected Species- Research dedicated to investigating the factors influencing the sustainability of protected species. Of primary interest to PCCRC is the Pribilof Island fur seal stock, however research on Steller sea lions, and other Endangered, Threatened or Protected species will also be considered.

  1. Evaluate potential environmental and anthropogenic drivers of fur seal declines on the Pribilof Islands.

  2. Assess vital rates and health of Steller sea lions, especially the western DPS, and efficacy of critical habitat closure areas.

VI. Resource Utilization- Research is desired to create additional products and/or derive greater product value from existing harvests.

  1. Better technology may be available for identification of non-metallic foreign materials particularly in whitefish block products. There is a need for a third party assessment of new, improved, and cost effective technologies to further reduce the incidence of process contaminants.

  2. Research leading to a better understanding of how pollock proteins differ in physical function, e.g., emulsification, water holding capacity, etc. versus other proteins such as whey, egg white, and plant proteins.

  3. Market research to increase pollock product market share in the domestic marketplace. There is a need to better understand consumer preference for pollock product forms intended to substitute farmed whitefish as a center of plate protein in the domestic market.

  4. Research to identify potential uses for currently unused pollock bone and skin matter.


 
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Student Fellowship

The PCCRC Graduate Fellowship in Fisheries Management and Marine Research provides up to $50,000 per academic year. The funds can be used to support a graduate stipend at your appropriate candidacy level, pay tuition (up to 18 credits per year) and graduate student health insurance, and to pay for up to $2000 in project-related research/travel expenses. Awards are renewable pending successful annual progress. M.S. students are eligible for a maximum of 2 years of support; Ph.D. students are eligible for a maximum of 3 years of support. PCCRC Graduate Fellowships support excellence in graduate student research and are not Research Assistantships. 

Selection Criteria and Guidelines

  1. Projects should address one or more of the PCCRC Research Priorities.

  2. Projects should be distinctive and make an original contribution to existing knowledge.

  3. Projects should have potential economic value to the fishing industry and/or contribute to long-term benefits for Alaska.

  4. Research objectives should reflect potential for continued development as a scientific or applied initiative.

  5. If completion of your research project depends on research funds beyond the limited funds provided with the Fellowship, your award may be contingent upon the receipt of those other funds.

 

Explore Past Funding 

The PCCRC is by no means just about Pollock! While funding comes from the Pollock Conservation Coop, the research they fund is exceptionally diverse in terms of disciple, research theme, and focal species. Below you can see how the funds are allocated by discipline, research theme, or focal species.