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Auke Bay Laboratory (ABL)

Marine Salmon Interactions Program

Joint NPAFC-PICES Symposium on Pacific Salmon

A symposium on “The Status of Pacific Salmon and their Role in North Pacific Ecosystems” was held on 30 October through 1 November 2005 in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, Republic of Korea, immediately following the annual meeting of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC). The symposium, jointly sponsored by the NPAFC and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), featured a 3-day series of technical papers and posters on a broad range of issues by scientists from Korea, Japan, Russia, Canada, and the United States.

Key themes of the symposium included 1) trends in abundance and biological characteristics of Pacific salmon, 2) how ocean conditions can be observed using Pacific salmon, 3) migration routes, migration timing, and resident areas for populations of Pacific salmon and what they can tell us about environmental conditions on small to mid-scales, 4) spatial scales of salmon and environmental variability, and over what spatial scales salmon act as indicators of environmental variability, 5) which observations of Pacific salmon indicate climate variability most clearly, and 6) how climate variability is transmitted to variability in Pacific salmon populations. A total of 31 oral presentations and 20 posters addressed these theme areas.

Scientists from ABL presented several papers including “Chinook salmon-trends in abundance and biological characteristics” by Bill Heard and others, “Biological characteristics of Pacific salmon as indicators of ocean conditions” by Jack Helle, Ellen Martinson and others, “Interannual variation in water mass properties, phytoplankton, nutrients, and juvenile salmon, age-0 pollock and herring distributions during fall in the eastern Bering Sea” by Lisa Eisner, Ed Farley, Jr., James Murphy, John Pohl, Jack Helle, and others (presented by Ed Farley), and “A review of the critical size, critical period hypothesis for juvenile Pacific salmon” by Ed Farley, Jr., Jamal Moss, and others.

Additionally, Jack Helle was coauthor on “Trends in abundance in chum salmon and biological characteristics,” Richard Wilmot and Charles Guthrie were co-authors on “DNA markers track the distribution and migration of sockeye salmon in the Bering Sea,” and Joe Orsi was coauthor on “Translating climate variability into salmon production; potential mechanisms for Chinook and coho salmon in southeastern Alaska, U.S.A.”

Posters presented by AFSC scientists included “Spatial variations in feeding conditions of juvenile Bristol Bay sockeye salmon in relation to ocean conditions along the Bering Sea shelf” by Ed Farley, Jr., James Murphy, and others, and “Stock-specific abundance estimates of Bristol Bay juvenile sockeye salmon” by James Murphy, Ed Farley, Jr., and others. Many of these papers and presentations, following peer review, are scheduled for publication in NPAFC Bulletin No. 4.

By Bill Heard

NPAFC Annual Meeting

Representatives of Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States, the primary states of origin for salmon stocks in the North Pacific Ocean, met in the Republic of Korea on 24-25 October 2005 for the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC). The meeting was chaired by Koji Imamura, president of the NPAFC. The NPAFC promotes the conservation of salmonids in the North Pacific Ocean and its adjacent seas, and serves as a venue for cooperation and coordination of enforcement activities and scientific research.

The Committee on Scientific Research and Statistics (CSRS) reviewed current research activities of member parties including reports of Working Groups on Stock Assessment, Salmon Marking, Stock Identification, and the Bering-Aleutian Salmon International Survey (BASIS) Program. Loh-Lee Low from the AFSC served as chairman of the CSRS, and Jack Helle of ABL was head of the CSRS science delegation for the United States. One of the more important events of the annual meeting was finalizing development of a new 5-year NPAFC Science Plan by CSRS and acceptance of the plan by the NPAFC.

The overarching hypotheses related to this plan are that 1) anadromous stocks play an important role in North Pacific marine ecosystems, and 2) there is a close relation between climate and climate change and subsequent changes in marine productivity and survival of anadromous stocks and associated fishes. Key elements of the new plan include a focus on status and trends in production of anadromous stocks in ocean ecosystems, juvenile anadromous stocks in ocean ecosystems, anadromous stocks in the Bering Sea Ecosystem and anadromous stocks in the Western Subarctic Gyre and Gulf of Alaska Ecosystems. Details of the new science plan are available at

By Bill Heard


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