Alaska Pacific University, B.A. Sustainability Studies
Thesis Title: Examining the effects of offshore marine mining activities on Norton Sound red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) habitat
Juvenile crab survival is primarily dependent on the availability and quality (complexity) of cover as refuge from predators. Offshore mining in Norton Sound may be adversely affecting Norton Sound red king crab (NSRKC) by reducing habitat complexity and by direct mortality. The intensity and distribution of Norton Sound seabed mining operations off Nome, Alaska, are increasing rapidly due to high gold prices, advances in underwater mining technologies, access to mining, and a reality television series produced by the Discovery Channel. Since 1996, the number of permitted offshore mining operations has grown from 3 to 207 and the total area designated for mining has increased from 320 to 23,793 acres. If development continues as expected, the area will become the largest offshore marine mining region in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone. My goals for this study are to 1) develop a collaborative partnership in Nome to support an NSRKC mining impacts study, and 2) develop and test acoustic methods for sampling and mapping seabed complexity.
Funding for this work was provided by the Pollock Conservation Cooperative via the Alaska Education Tax Credit Program.