By Ivan Stupachenko
Russian and Canadian scientists have agreed to jointly research salmon migration and reproduction in the North Pacific, with a special focus on how the climate change affects species stocks.
The agreement was made at the 26th session of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC), which took place in Russian city of Khabarovsk at the end of May. It emerged from a larger meeting of scientists from the commission’s member states – Russia, the United States, South Korea, Canada, and Japan – which jointly reviewed available data on salmon stocks and agreed upon a plan of scientific works, the commission said in a statement.
At the meeting, discussion focused on the necessity to improve methods of research surveys in order to account for the changing conditions of salmon habitat and provide more accurate predictions of production of the species, its run size, conditions of the salmon, and other factors.
The commission agreed to publish a special report investigating how climate affects salmon production and migration processes. For getting additional data, Russia and Canada will conduct a joint research survey in the winter 2019 in the North Pacific to better understand the issue. The Russian side will provide a scientific vessel for the research work. In case the expedition proves to be fruitful, four more vessels will be added in subsequent years to cover the whole North Pacific, the Pacific Fishery Scientific Research Center (TINRO) said in a release.
TINRO Deputy Director Igor Melnikov told SeafoodSource that there are more factors associated with climate change affecting salmon than mere increases in water temperatures. In his opinion, the joint effort is needed to adequately research climate change’s impact for every species of salmon and for every region where they exist based on an ecosystem approach
Big abnormal variations in salmon production noted over recent years still to be explained, Melnikov said. For example, in 2016, only 440 million salmon fingerlings were recorded in the Sea of Okhotsk, which was the lowest level ever recorded. But the next year, 2.3 billion salmon fingerlings were registered in the same sea, the biggest number on record.
Current stocks of Pacific salmon are more than double than they were in the 1960s and 1970s both in Asian and American waters. Scientists think that the increase has been caused by climate change – that an increase in temperature in the Northeastern Asia has made conditions there more favorable for salmon.