In recent years, fishermen and researchers have reported that Bering Sea boats must search farther north for pollock, and snow crab stocks are also on a steady march to colder waters.
The North Pacific and Arctic oceans are especially vulnerable to the effects of global warming, because cold water absorbs carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions more readily.
That has prompted Alaska fishery managers to expand protections for Arctic waters, even before potential problems arise.
Last October, the North Pacific Council tasked its staff to prepare a discussion paper on options for expanding protections for resources of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
In December, the panel agreed to put in motion plans to develop a strategy that would potentially close Arctic waters north of the Bering Strait, and/or waters north of Point Hope, to commercial fishing until a fishery management plan is in place for any species not already covered under an existing plan.
Because warmer waters are also reducing the number of smaller organisms that make up much of the marine food web, the plan could expand to include resources like krill and other forage species, said Dave Benton, a former
North Pacific Fishery Management Council chairman and now director of the Marine Conservation Alliance.
"It's very unique for a management entity to actually say 'let's not do anything until we have a plan in place'," Benton said.
Such forward thinking tops the list of world conservationists, said Brad Warren of Seattle-based Natural Resources Consultants, and author of a new report called 'Conserving Alaska's Oceans.'
"If you look at what conservation advocates want most in world fisheries, it is precaution. This is a good example of it," Warren said.
The North Pacific Council oversees management of fisheries in federal waters from three to 200 miles offshore, an area that encompasses 900,000 square miles.
The NPFMC is scheduled to take up the issue of Arctic waters next month in Anchorage. Find the discussion paper at www.fakr.noo.gov/npfmc/fmp/ArcticFMP.pdf. Contact is Bill Wilson.
Seafood ice cream
Ice cream with seafood chunks has become popular in Japan, where the Kagawa Fishery Cooperative has been selling it for nearly ten years.
It's available in six flavors - yellowtail flounder, baby sardine, seaweed, octopus, crab and shrimp.
According to the Japan Times, the makers have developed a way to remove as much of the fishy smell as possible, while keeping the delicious flavors. Although some tend to think of it as a joke product, the sellers take their ice cream very seriously.
They said they developed the product because more children and young women are shifting away from a healthful fish diet, and seafood ice cream is one way to draw them back.
The ice cream is currently being sold at some airports, highway parking lots and resorts. The co-op also sells its ice cream by mail.
People in Taiwan have also gotten a taste for the seafood confection.
For one dollar a scoop, they can select from thirteen flavors- including strawberry tuna, wasabi cuttlefish and pineapple shrimp.
The savory ice cream, which comes in stark colors like orange, green and black, is topped with sprinkles of dried fish, roe or chopped squid.
The novel dessert, sold under the brand name 'Doctor Ice,' was created three years ago by a woman named Liny Hsueh.
She is expanding to a second outlet and adding scallops as the newest flavor to her seafood ice cream line up.
Codfish creamsicles or surimi ice cream sandwiches anyone?
Welch, who lives in Kodiak, has written about Alaska's seafood industry since 1988.