International Pacific salmon expedition: Russian context

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Russian research team participated in the international expedition (The Pacific Branch of the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography)

Importance of international research collaboration and major differences in research methods

On April 29, 2019, Russian scientific vessel Professor Kaganovsky returned to Vladivostok after an international wild salmon research expedition in the Gulf of Alaska privately organized by a retired Canadian scientist, Richard Beamish, as a signature event of the International Year of Salmon.

As reported by the Pacific Branch of the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, Russian scientists who joined the expedition received a priceless experience from this international collaboration with their foreign colleagues. The Russian side is believed to conduct research voyages in open waters on a regular basis, while other countries do them less frequently. In this case, the Russians noted an enthusiasm of Canadian researchers to collect unique samples for further analysis. At the same time, the Russian scientists pointed out differences in research methods between them and their foreign teammates. According to Anton Khleborodov quoted in the Institute’s press release, the Russian method includes large-scale research on board a ship, resulting in scientific reports on the go.

“Our colleagues pedantically collected all the samples and ‘formalinned’ them to further study them leisurely ashore.”

The goal of this five-week-long expedition joined by 21 researchers from Canada, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States was to examine Pacific salmon in the Gulf of Alaska to provide insights on fish wintering and their survival in open waters. The scientists conducted test fisheries, determined the most common salmon species for that area and pioneered a new DNA testing method to predict a return rate and changes to salmon stocks.

Richard Beamish fundraised about $1 million for this expedition. Fisheries and Oceans Canada with $250,000; the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association with $200,000; the Pacific Salmon Commission with $150,000; and the Pacific Salmon Foundation with $100,000 were among the major donors. Out of this money, $900,000 went for the Russian vessel’s charter.

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