World Oceans Day: None near Fairbanks, but we're still connected

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) World Oceans Day is celebrated annually on June 8 in an effort to bring awareness to the importance and benefits the ocean provides for humankind.

First declared in 1992 at the Global Ocean Forum in Rio de Janeiro, the United Nations designated June 8 as "World Oceans Day" in 2008.

Although you cannot cast a fishing line into the Pacific Ocean from Fairbanks, oceans play a large role within Interior Alaska.

Alaska's College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (CFOS) program is housed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, despite being over 300 miles away from the Pacific Ocean coastline.

From the fresh seafood at the local grocer to the latest sneakers on the shelves, the ocean provides services to inland areas nowhere near the waters.

"90% of all goods and services are transmitted around the globe on the ocean," said the Dean of UAF's College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Brad Moran. "The running shoes you buy in Fairbanks likely got here by a vessel on the ocean, so the oceans are a very much a part of our lives whether you're in Kansas, Fairbanks or Anchorage for that matter."

To continue to utilize the ocean for its many benefits, Moran says programs like CFOS are critical for understanding and sustaining the waters. "The academic programs, the students, the research, all address many of the most pressing issues we have right now facing us. Whether that is insuring a sustainable fishery, looking at ocean observing, marine mammals... it is really across the board," said Moran, adding, "Fundamentally, as a sustainable resource, fisheries, our oceans and all that is in them, as well as inland waters that we also study, are essential. They are vital to Alaska's health, its communities and its economy."

While the headquarters reside in Fairbanks, CFOS branches far beyond the 'Golden Heart City' to locations at Alaska's coastline, such as Homer, Anchorage, Lena Point and Seward. Moran said, "We engage very well with the University of Alaska Southeast and deliver an undergraduate program in Fisheries and Ocean Sciences with those faculties. Those faculties at Southeast also mentor some of our graduate students, so it is a very good collaboration with our college at UAF and those faculty and students at the University of Alaska Southeast."

CFOS is connected to the sockeye salmon, halibut, crab and other seafood bought in the Fairbanks area. "The research and academic training that is going on in our college is absolutely directly involved in the sustainability of those fisheries," said Moran. "It is right here at your fingertips in Fairbanks."

UAF is an Alaska Sea Grant University -- a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and UAF. Alaska Sea Grant "enhances the sustainable use and conservation of Alaska's marine and freshwater resources through research, outreach and education", according to UAF.

World Ocean Day 2020's theme is 'Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.'

More information on UAF's College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences can be found on their website.

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