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Experiments with Seasonal Forecasts of ocean conditions in the Pacific Northwest to aid the crab fishery

The Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) fishery is the most valuable on the US West Coast, with landed values ranging from $100 million to $250 million dollars per year for 2013-2015. In the Pacific Northwest the states and tribes co-manage this fishery and must make critical decisions on seasonal timescales. There is strong interest from crab fishery managers to inform decisions with seasonal forecasts of ocean conditions that are known to affect Dungeness crabs: temperature, oxygen concentrations, aragonite saturation states, and lower-trophic level production rates. We propose to augment an existing forecast system to address the needs of the Dungeness crab fishery managers and stakeholders. This forecast system, JISAO’s Seasonal Coastal Ocean Prediction of the Ecosystem (J-SCOPE, features dynamical downscaling of regional ocean conditions in Washington and Oregon waters using a combination of a high-resolution regional model with biogeochemistry and forecasts from NOAA’s Climate Forecast System (CFS). We will tailor and test the ability of J-SCOPE to forecast the autumn period critical to crab fishery managers, and determine whether forcing with a multi-model ensemble (North American Multi-Model Ensemble or NMME) reduces bias and better conveys uncertainty, relative to our previous efforts using CFS alone. Using the J-SCOPE  forecasts, we will quantify the relationship between local ocean conditions and three decision- oriented metrics from the crab fishery: (1) meat quality index, (2) spatial and interannual variability in the spatial distribution of crab catch and abundance, and (3) likelihood of summertime hypoxic events. Forecasts for the crab fishery will be delivered via the existing J- SCOPE app on the NANOOS portal (Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems) in partnership with state and tribal managers on our Advisory Council. This project addresses directly the second of MAPP’s competitions on advancing the prediction of subseasonal to seasonal phenomena. This project will address objectives 1 and 3 of the MAPP Program.

Climate Risk Area: Marine Ecosystems

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