International Gulf of Alaska Expedition Begins

Twenty-one scientists from five Pacific Rim countries have embarked on the International Gulf of Alaska Expedition 2019 ran under the auspices of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. The organization is hailing the venture as its signature project of the International Year of the Salmon.

The expedition left Vancouver, British Columbia, on Feb. 16, aboard the chartered Russian research vessel MV Professor Kaganovsky. It will visit 72 stations in the Gulf of Alaska before returning to Vancouver on March 18. According to NPAFC, this end-of-winter trawl survey will, for the first time, provide a comprehensive understanding of the abundance, condition, country of origin and location of stocks from the salmon producing countries of Japan, Korea, Russia, the United States and Canada. Such information is needed to better understand how climate and the changing ocean environment affect salmon production.

The goal is to establish a new hemispheric-scale partnership of government indigenous peoples, academia, NGOs, and industry to effectively connect hundreds of organizations with the capacity and desire to address scientific and social challenges facing salmon and people in an increasingly uncertain environment.

Emeritus fisheries scientist Dick Beamish of the Pacific Biological station at Nanaimo, British Columbia, who conceived and planned the expedition, said that this is the first such expedition in decades to study salmon in the high seas. He anticipated that discoveries made during the expedition will allow for more effective stewardship of Pacific salmon in a future of changing ecosystems.

The $1.3 million project is jointly funded by a combination of government, industry, non-government organization and private contributions including the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization and the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Organizers have released the first video of the expedition, which can be downloaded at More videos will be uploaded during the coming weeks.