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Commercial Fishing


Low Russian catches of Pacific salmon, review meeting reveals

On October 20, 2020, in Vladivostok, under the leadership of the Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation – Head of the Federal Agency for Fisheries Ilya Shestakov, a working meeting was held on the results of salmon fishing season 2020.

The event was attended by the Governor of the Kamchatka Territory Vladimir Solodov, scientists-specialists of the Federal State Budgetary Scientific Institution “VNIRO” and its branches, heads of professional associations and representatives of the fishing business of the Far Eastern regions.

In his opening remarks, Ilya Shestakov noted that it was necessary to conduct a thorough analysis of how the fishing strategies adopted for each region for 2020 worked. “The main role in this analysis is undoubtedly assigned to science. It is necessary to accelerate the formation of regional strategies for 2021 in order to give time for preparation for our fishermen, and for discussion by our industry and scientific and commercial councils, ”said the head of the Federal Agency for Fishery.

In 2020, a decrease in the number of approaches of Pacific salmon in the Far Eastern fishery basin was expected. However, the real level of their production as of October 10, 2020 turned out to be 23% (or almost 100 thousand tons) lower than the initial forecast estimate of 384 thousand tons. This catch rate is the lowest since 2009.

Commenting on such a lag from the initial forecast, the head of the department of anadromous fish of Russia at the VNIRO Federal State Budgetary Scientific Institution Sergey Marchenko noted that the volumes of salmon harvest met the forecast expectations, or exceeded them only in the west of Kamchatka (West Kamchatka and Kamchatka-Kuril subzones), in the Okhotsk Sea regions of Khabarovsk the edge and in the east of Sakhalin. However, in the northern and southern fishing areas, as well as in the east of Kamchatka, the volumes of Pacific salmon harvest were lower than predicted.

“The undershoot of pink salmon in the Magadan region, pink and chum salmon in Chukotka and the Southern Kuriles, as well as all types of Pacific salmon in the east of Kamchatka cannot be explained either by the miscalculations of industry science, or by the peculiarities of regulation and fishing. Underfishing was based on the low number of approaches of Pacific salmon, ”Sergei Marchenko said.

According to Marchenko, an analysis of the fishing situation in general in the salmon fishery in the North Pacific showed that in 2020 low approaches of Pacific salmon were observed not only in certain regions of Russia, but also in Alaska, where, compared to 2015-2019, the catch of Pacific salmon decreased by 37% on average, and catches of sockeye salmon (excluding Bristol Bay) and pink salmon in Southeast Alaska were the worst since 1976.

“The simultaneous decline in the catch of Pacific salmon in the western and eastern parts of the North Pacific suggests the presence of common factors influencing the formation of the number of Russian and Pacific salmon herds,” he concluded.

One of the probable reasons for this behavior, according to Sergei Marchenko, was a long-term temperature anomaly in January-May 2020, which was caused by a decrease in wind speed in the North Pacific region. “By itself, this anomaly in recent years is a common phenomenon, but its feature this year was its long existence – it began to collapse only in July. The decrease in wind activity also influenced, which caused the shift of the 8-degree isotherm in October 2019 – April 2020 to the west and northwest. In accordance with temperature preferences, northern salmon groups also moved to the west, which led to an increase in their density in local waters, increased food competition and decreased survival, ”continued Sergey Marchenko.

“Today we have managed to achieve a deeper level of analysis through the synthesis of fishery and academic knowledge, multiplied by historical data. Undoubtedly, this experience will give us the opportunity to increase the efficiency of predictive estimates by introducing climatic indices into mathematical models as predictors of a particular development of events, and their implementation will be achieved through the development of research, ”he concluded.

Deputy Director of VNIRO – Head of the Pacific Branch Alexei Baytalyuk noted in his speech that the results of the 2020 season could very likely mean the beginning of the end of the super-high abundance of Pacific salmon in the Far East. “Probably, this process will not develop rapidly, but even now we can assume that the limiting factors regulating the number of salmon in the coming decades may be the consequences of the warming of ocean waters, reducing the feeding area of ​​these objects. It is necessary to develop new experience in predicting the response to these factors, ”Baytalyuk said.

“In this regard, the Pacific branch of VNIRO has prepared a plan of sea expeditions for 2021, which takes into account all the directions necessary for assessing salmon stocks during the transition period,” he added.

During the meeting, Ilya Shestakov suggested involving foreign colleagues in the discussion of the problem. “It is necessary to initiate an international scientific conference with the participation of all countries that are interested in this. First of all, I mean Japan and the United States. We will be able to present our justifications and listen to the conclusions and recommendations of our colleagues on this issue, ”concluded the head of the Federal Agency for Fishery.

The Governor of the Kamchatka Territory Vladimir Solodov also supported this initiative, noting its importance for industry science. “I absolutely support the holding of an international conference. It seems important to me to link applied issues and more fundamental ones concerning the changes in the Pacific Ocean. We are already working with foreign colleagues from Japanese and American institutions, which, among other things, study plankton. Taking into account the attention that was riveted to the peninsula, I would suggest holding this conference in Kamchatka, ”said Vladimir Solodov.

Source: United Press Service of the Federal Agency for Fishery