A Pan-Pacific winter high seas expedition aimed at advancing an understanding of how extreme climate variability impacts Pacific salmon has been rescheduled to 2022 due to unprecedented circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Year of the Salmon (IYS) and North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) note that the 2022 expedition will build on research from 2019 and 2020 International Gulf of Alaska Expeditions, which have helped advance understanding of the winter ecology of Pacific salmon in the North Pacific Ocean.
The 2022 expedition will be a comprehensive ecosystem survey to learn how increasingly extreme climate variability and associated changes in the physical environment of the North Pacific Ocean influence abundance, distribution, migration growth, fitness and survival of Pacific salmon and surrounding species. As many as four vessels will go to sea in late winter 2022 to conduct this first ever pan-Pacific, epipelagic ecosystem survey. The epipelagic zone is that part of the ocean where enough light penetrates for photosynthesis to occur.
The principal objective is to demonstrate the value of such a winter ecosystem survey and inform on how increasingly extreme and volatile climate conditions in the North Pacific might influence survival of Pacific salmon and associated species.
International Year of the Salmon researchers said recent research has indicated that increasingly poor and variable marine survival has contributed to declines in many salmon populations in the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans since the mid 1990s. They hope that the 2022 expedition will improve their understanding of these mechanisms and better inform management decisions.
The IYS is working with the five NPAFC member countries – (Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and United States) - plus academic and government partners and non-government organizations to plan the expedition.
Indications, now pending formal approval, are that Canada, the Russian Federation and the United States will each contribute one research vessel available for the survey. More information is online at https://yearofthesalmon.org/high-seas-expeditions/.
The IYS is a five-year initiative, running from 2018 through 2022, to establish conditions for the resilience of salmon and people in a changing world. The partnership is led by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization.