Russia declares 2021 “The Year of Salmon,” plans new focus on research and accurate forecasting

Published on
December 31, 2020

Following the worst salmon season in the last 10 years, Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries took little time to roll out an action plan to create a new method for creating a scientific forecast in the wake of poor forecasting for 2020.

The 2020 salmon season in Russia's Far East ended with the total catch below expectations, and the biggest surprise was not the results themselves, but the fact that the forecasts based on previously effective models proved to be ineffective. The gap between the forecast and the results was explained by Russian scientists as due to changes in the Northern Pacific's ecosystem. In response, Russia's government decided a new approach to forecasting is needed.

The country’s new strategy places a greater emphasis on research and closer cooperation with scientists from other salmon-catching countries. As part of this effort, Russia has organized an international conference on salmon, to be held in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk – the capital of the Sakhalin island – in February 2021. Fisheries scientists from around the globe have been invited to participate, according to a the Russian Federal Agency for Fisheries press release.

Russian fishery scientists are working out a five-year program of research targeted at enhancing the accuracy of forecasting. The first program will start next year, a year that Ilya Shestakov, head of the Fishery Agency, called “The Year of Salmon,” emphasizing the focus that will be placed on the species. The research in 2021 will cover the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea, the waters near the Kuril islands, and the Chuckhee Sea. As part of the initiative, a special strategy for aerial and acoustic research of salmon during spawning will introduced. 

"We will have a period of uncertainty regarding the assessment of stocks till we have gained new experience to be able to forecast the impact of new factors on the stocks," Aleksei Baitaliuk, the deputy head of the Pacific branch of the Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO), told the Fisheries Agency's press service.

Photo courtesy of Konstantin Baidin/Shutterstock 

Reporting from Saint Petersburg, Russia

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