The North Pacific Marine Science Organization is holding the PICES-2019 Annual Meeting in Victoria, B.C., Oct. 16-27, 2019, "Connecting Science and Communities in a Changing North Pacific"
Dick Beamish, the scientist behind the 'Year of the Salmon' expedition to the North Pacific last February by an international team of scientists of various disciplines, will be in Victoria this autumn to hear the beginning of reports being issued from those who worked on the expedition.
Meanwhile, Beamish and Brian Riddell are working with the Pacific Salmon Foundation to organize a second scientific expedition to the North Pacific the late winter/spring 2020.
Beamish said the first expedition was very successful. They estimated that there were about 55 million salmon in the survey area. Abundances were large for chum and coho but much smaller for pink salmon which should have been the most abundant. Fraser River sockeye abundance was very low, possibly an index of what we now know returned. Fraser River sockeye were also found farther west than previously known. Now pending are the reports of the overall health of fish that were caught in the North Pacific this past February and a test of the idea that abundance of salmon is mostly determined by the end of the first ocean winter.
Beamish and Riddell with the support of the Pacific Salmon Foundation are raising funds for a second expedition. They have receive strong support from the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, a five-year funding program, established late in 2018 with 70 percent from Federal money and 30 percent from B.C money. The fund has been instrumental in supporting the study of salmon throughout B.C.
The underlying purpose of these salmon study expeditions to the North Pacific is to understand the overall mechanisms that regulate salmon abundance. "There is a mechanism that ensures a small percentage of salmon survive to return to the rivers to spawn."
Beamish has said many times that the surviving 'spawners' have to be the 'fastest,' 'quickest' fish in the fight for survival in the oceans. The eventual spawners must show a lot of strength in the early development phase of their four-year life-cycle.
It's obviously a real fight for survival in the ocean. In addition to the normal challenges to the salmon's survival, scientists are studying how climate change is changing ocean ecosystems. in the North Pacific. "The international scientific community has joined together as part of the International Year of the salmon to work cooperatively, to understand the effects of climate change on the salmon in the North Pacific."
The privately organized Gulf of Alaska Expeditions are an important facet of the salmon studies being done by researchers from all salmon producing countries.