JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska researchers in Juneau have been at their state-of-the-art facility for a decade, where they last year earned a gold medal from the U.S. Department of Commerce for a study of sablefish.

Staff at the Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute celebrated the facility's 10th anniversary on Saturday, the Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/2wu8hoN ). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers survey Alaska's most important commercial fish stocks like pollock, sablefish and salmon.

Their award-winning research was for an ecosystem level study of sablefish — or black cod. The research shed light on the impact warming ocean temperatures have on sablefish prey.

"Over five years we looked at everything from physics to fish," the institute's Director Phil Mundy said. "We now have a much better idea of how changes in the climate bring about changes in the abundance of commercially important fish."

Mundy called the $54 million study the largest of its kind.

Fisheries research biologist Emily Fergusson has worked at the lab for 16 years. She remembers researching out of old trailers with busted pipes before the facility was built.

"This is just a state-of-the-art lab to work in," Fergusson said. "We have dedicated space, specialized equipment . It's been a pleasure."

The center was named after late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. He was chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee at the time and helped secure funding for the institute. Stevens died in 2010 in an Alaska plane crash.

Juneau Mayor Ken Koelsch and Dr. Francisco (Cisco) Werner, Director of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, both spoke at Saturday's celebration.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com