Multinational salmon research trip underway in Gulf of Alaska

The International Gulf of Alaska Expedition 2019 is underway, according to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, with the chartered 62-meter Russian research vessel Professor Kaganovskiy having departed Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on Saturday, 16 February.

The expedition is setting out to study salmon while they are at sea, rather than when they journey back to rivers and streams to spawn at the end of their lives. The study is the first comprehensive winter study of Pacific salmon in the Gulf of Alaska. According to a press released provided by the NPAFC, the study will visit 72 stations in the Gulf and will return to Vancouver next month on 18 March. 

Researchers hope the study will provide information and understanding of the abundance, condition, country of origin, and location of stocks from Pacific salmon-producing countries. 

The NPAFC is comprised of the five Pacific salmon producing countries: Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America. The expedition is comprised of 21 researchers from those five countries. 

The project, expected to cost USD 1.3 million (EUR 1.2 million), has received funding from multiple sources including government, industry, NGO, and private contributions. 

Dick Beamish of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who helped organize the expedition, said that he believes “discoveries will be made [which] will lead to an understanding of how to be responsible stewards of Pacific salmon in a future of changing ocean ecosystems.” 

Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Jonathan Wilkinson, who was at the ship’s sendoff, said only a collective effort by multiple stakeholders made the expedition possible.

“Wild Pacific salmon are extremely important to British Columbia and our coastal communities,” Wilkinson said. “It is a priority for our government to protect and restore them. Canada is proud to work with international partners in this ground-breaking science research expedition to better understand the health of Pacific salmon populations and to create solutions for supporting their recovery.” 

Photo courtesy of Fisheries and Oceans Canada


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