Russia hosts International Year of Salmon celebration, with conservation of species top-of-mind
The International Year of Salmon (IYS) 2019 has officially started after the inaugurating ceremony held at the II Global Fishery Forum on 15 September in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Initiated by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) and by the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), and supported by several other regional organizations, the aim of the IYS is to “raise awareness of what humans can do to better ensure salmon and their varied habitats are conserved and restored against the backdrop of increasing environmental variability,” according to a statement on the NPAFC’s website.
The parties at the IYS ceremony committed to a set a series of measures targeted at conservation and restoration of salmon stocks globally, with a special emphasis on Russia. Those measures included conducting research-focused scientific expeditions, upping the fight against illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing, encouraging information exchange between salmon-fishing countries, and public education regarding salmon. Some of these activities have already started and the program will last into 2022.
Due to its geography and size, Russia possesses the most varied biological and genetic diversity of salmon on the planet, Ilya Shestakov, the head of the Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries, said at the ceremony. Shestakov spoke along with NASCO President Johannes Hansen, NPAFC President Suam Kim, and University of Vancouver Professor Richard Beamish, the initiator of the IYS.
Shestakov cited anthropogenic factors such as climate change, IUU, and the pollution of the marine environment, as the leading threats facing the world’s salmon populations in future years.
In Russia, which experienced a record catch during its 2018 salmon season, science has shown that salmon have been migrating north due to warmer sea temperatures caused by climate change, Shestakov said. He added that the global fishing industry requires longer-term catch and stock forecasts than are currently available.
According to NPAFC, the global annual catch of Pacific salmon is nearly one million metric tons (MT) – up significantly from the 1950-1970s, when it amounted to an average 400,000 MT. However, the global catch of anadromous salmon fell to 1,200 MT against 12,000 MT in the 1970s.