Gulf of Alaska expedition ends with new salmon data

A second Gulf of Alaska expedition aimed at learning more about numbers of salmon that will return to North American rivers has concluded in Victoria, British Columbia, with data gathered by American, Canadian and Russian researchers now to undergo further study.

Officials with the International Year of the Salmon and Pacific Salmon Foundation announced on Wednesday, April 22, the arrival of the Canadian charter vessel Pacific Legacy on April 7 at Victoria Harbor. The expedition set sail from British Columbia on March 11.

This year’s goal was to study factors that regulate the abundance of salmon during their ocean residence and determine if these surveys can offer an early measure to the number of salmon that will return to rivers in North America.

The 2020 expedition came in the wake of the first international expedition last year aboard the Russian research vessel the R/V Professor Kaganovskiy.

The 2020 expedition involved 51 stations spaced out over the southern Gulf of Alaska, each some eight hours apart. Extensive oceanographic measurements were taken at each station.

In addition, a trawl net was employed on the surface of each station for an hour. Samples collected from all salmon included tissue samples for DNA analysis which will identify the exact spawning location, researchers said.

Data collected from the two expeditions is being made available to all interested researchers. A conference is to be held when possible to bring together researchers from both expeditions to finalize interpretations and publish them.

The second expedition, supported by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, is part of the International Year of the Salmon. It was privately funded by a number of entities, including Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Leader Creek Fisheries, Trident Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods, UniSea, Silver Bay Seafoods, E&E Foods, Keltic Seafoods Ltd., French Creek Seafood and the Canadian Fishing Co., as well as Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Coastal First Nations’ Great Bear Initiative.