Pan-Pacific salmon research project begins

A Pan-Pacific salmon research expedition supported by five nations is slated to get underway between late January and mid-February, to learn more about the impact on salmon due to climate change in the North Pacific Ocean.

The International Year of the Salmon and the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, in Vancouver, B.C. announced on Tuesday, Jan. 25, that the four research vessels, with over 60 scientists and crew, would include Canada’s CCCG Sir John Franklin, the United States’ NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada, Russia’s R/V TINRO and the Canadian commercial fishing vessel F/V Raw Spirit. Their progress at sea will be posted online at the IYS website yearofthesalmon.org/2022expedition.

The 2022 expedition is building on data gathered from the Gulf of Alaska expeditions in 2019 and 2020 and the 2021 Western Pacific winter expedition, the commission said. The goal is to better understand how increasingly extreme climate variability in the North Pacific Ocean and associate changes in the physical environment influence the abundance, distribution, migration and growth of Pacific salmon.

Plans are for the vessels to systematically deploy oceanographic gears and trawl nets at stations some 60 nautical miles apart across the North Pacific Ocean to sample the environment and ecosystem, from microscopic plankton to large predators, with a focus on salmon and associated species.

Canada’s commercial vessel will simultaneously use gillnets to assess the effectiveness of trawl nets to sample the fish and composition of salmon, including steelhead, in surface waters. All data collected is to be made accessible to the public.

The International Year of the Salmon is a five-year initiative, spanning 2018-2022, to establish conditions for the resilience of salmon and people in a changing world, expedition organizers said of the hemispheric partnership led by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. NPAFC member countries are Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the USA.