Seawatch: marine weather forecasts are getting an update

The marine weather forecasts are getting an update to more accurately reflect near-coastal waters conditions.

Starting next month, marine forecasts for many areas will change from 0-100 miles offshore and instead be based from 0-15 miles offshore, and 15-100 miles. The changes are coming largely from the subsistence community which largely fishes in near-shore waters, according to Aviva Braun from the National Weather Service office in Anchorage. She spoke with Alaska Public Media.

“We decided to pare down our marine zones,” she told them, explaining they will essentially turn into separate zones.

With the longest coastline in the nation, the marine forecast is important to all mariners, but Braun said subsistence fishermen drove the changes.

“What we had in the forecast was not accurate, the (forecast) winds were far too strong, the waves were far too high,” Braun said, “and that’s because it was capturing the more extreme conditions further out from shoreline, and people would have to adjust either up or down, and we don’t want people to have to do that.

The new 15-mile split will apply state-wide, but Braun said that areas like Prince William Sound and Bristol Bay will get even more zones because they are larger areas in general. The western Aleutian Islands out past Adak will not see the changes because those areas are less heavily trafficked, and most ships in those areas have access to satellite data.

In other news, last year Governor Mike Dunleavy formed a task force to study salmon issues plaguing the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers as well as other Bering Sea bycatch issues, and when that task force made its report to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, the Council used that information to form another task force.

NOAA Fisheries is seeking nominations for the Alaska Salmon Research Task Force. The task force will be made up of Alaska residents with personal knowledge of, and direct experience with, subsistence uses in rural Alaska; Alaska fishing industry representatives throughout the salmon supply chain, including from directed commercial fishing, recreational fishing, charter fishing, seafood processors, salmon prohibited species catch (bycatch) users, or hatcheries; and five representatives who are academic experts in salmon biology, salmon ecology (marine and freshwater), salmon habitat restoration and conservation, or comprehensive marine research planning in the North Pacific.

The Governor will also appoint one representative from the State of Alaska who is knowledgeable about the State of Alaska’s salmon research efforts.

The task force will have several virtual and potentially in-person (with hybrid options) meetings throughout its 1-year period. It will produce a report to Congress after one year. The

report will describe the scientific review undertaken and recommendations for filling knowledge gaps that warrant further scientific inquiry.

Nominations are due by March 10.

To submit a nomination or for more information, please contact Ed Farley (