Recent and Historic Population Trends in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands: Hubs and Spokes, Booms and Busts
Jennifer Sepez, NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service
Amanda Poole, University of Washington
Human populations on the coastline and islands of the Bering Sea have been increasing since the 1920s, a trend which could accelerate or reverse under different global climate change scenarios. In larger hub communities, a net in-migration has been generated by foreign-born immigrants drawn as labor to the seafood processing industry. In many small villages, net out-migration for education and economic opportunity is countered by a high birth rate among Native Alaskan populations. Most communities that have experienced negative population growth in the last 15 years are those closely linked to the salmon fishery which has suffered economically with the growth of globalized trade in farmed fish. Understanding of these patterns can help us to construct models that predict potential impacts of ecosystem changes stemming from global climate change, which are expected to be more dramatic in the arctic and subarctic than in other parts of the planet.