Wild Salmon Center Newsletter Winter, 2010
In this issue
- New Protected Area in Japan
- Notes from the Field: Defending Salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska
- SSI Receives Prestigious Award
- Sustainable Fisheries Coalition
- Copenhagen Climate Change Talks Expose Threats to Salmon
- WSC Joins the World Wilderness Conference in Mexico
- ALSO: New economic report reveals salmon's $3 billion impact; Addressing hatchery issues in Russia and globally; Washington coast salmon stronghold analysis; and Upcoming Events.
The Wild Salmon Center and Oji Paper Company partner to protect one of the country's last free-flowing wild salmon rivers
Oji Paper, the largest paper company in Japan, has made a landmark commitment to create a Protected Area on private timber lands surrounding the Sarufutsu River, one of the last wild and free-flowing rivers in Japan. The 6,573 acre Sarufutsu Environmental Conservation Forest is the first Protected Area on private lands in Japan specifically devoted to aquatic biodiversity. It will safeguard critical habitat for a number of species, including the endangered sea run taimen (also called Itou)—the largest freshwater fish in Japan. Taimen can reach up to one meter in length and live over 20 years.
"We believe the creation of the Sarufutsu Environmental Conservation Forest and Sarufutsu Conservation Council represents a win-win for both business and biodiversity conservation," said Gemmei Shimamura, General Manager Strategic Resource Management Division, Oji Paper Company. "Oji is committed to take the steps necessary to balance the protection of this remarkable natural treasure with sustainable timber harvests."
The Wild Salmon Center has been working with Oji Paper for several years to create a plan that would ensure that the most ecologically important segments of the Sarufutsu River watershed are protected for the purpose of fisheries conservation. The new Protected Area will include a 30 meter "no-cut" timber zone along 100% of the Sarufutsu River and its tributaries within Oji Paper boundaries, ensuring that riparian areas are buffered and critical habitat stays intact. The area will also encompass healthy floodplain forests and large wetlands areas that are recognized as an "Important Bird Area" by Birdlife International.
"Oji Paper Company has done what no other private timber company has ever done in Japan: they have voluntarily set aside a large track of productive forests for the preservation of aquatic biodiversity," notes Brian Caouette, Program Manager at Wild Salmon Center.
Oji Paper Company has also taken the next step in good stewardship by establishing the Sarufutsu Itou Conservation Council, a collaborative effort that will help guide future conservation activities in the region.
"The creation of the protected area on the Sarufutsu is incredibly timely," said Dr. Michio Fukushima, a scientist with the National Institute for Environmental Studies Japan and a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). "The Sarufutsu Environmental Conservation Forest will act as an insurance policy in the face of growing threats to biodiversity globally including climate change."
Bristol Bay, Alaska
by Sarah O'Neal, Population Biologist, State of the Salmon
Last December, I joined a large and diverse group of scientists, fishery interests and Bristol Bay residents in Anchorage, Alaska to testify in support of a proposal to recommend the establishment of a fish refuge in Bristol Bay watersheds.
Bristol Bay's Kvichak and Nushagak watersheds are among the most productive salmon producing systems in North America and sustain the largest wild sockeye salmon runs in the world. Large scale metallic sulfide mines for copper and gold, such as the proposed Pebble Mine, pose significant environmental threats to these exceptionally valuable fishery resources.
Alaska Department of Fish & Game Board of Fisheries sets policy and direction for the management of the state’s fishery resources mandate. The Board can adopt regulations to set apart fish refuges in the waters of the state, subject to the approval of the legislature.
There were about 80 registered testimonials regarding the refuge proposal. Native representatives discussed the value of their subsistence lifestyle upon which they have depended for generations. Commercial and sport fishermen spoke of the value of their industries to Alaskans and to the world at large. Our partners at the Alaskan chapter of Trout Unlimited hosted a number of scientists that discussed the risks of acid mine drainage to fish habitat, and the follies of relying on mitigation to restore diminished salmon habitat. In my testimony, I discussed the importance of protecting one of our last remaining salmon strongholds, as well as the work I conducted this summer documenting and assessing salmon and their habitat.
Although the Board did not approve the proposal outright, they agreed to send a letter to the Alaska Legislature recommending review of the permitting process for large mines in Alaska, and to provide additional protection to Bristol Bay based on the outcome of that review.
WSC and Trout Unlimited are currently collaborating on the development and publication of a technical report due this summer that examines the threats posed by a mining operation of Pebble Mine’s magnitude on the health and productivity of the Bristol Bay and neighboring watersheds.
- Working to Save the Best of the Last in Alaska's Bristol Bay (Trout). State of the Salmon's Sarah O'Neal joins Dr. Carol Ann Woody to survey streams in and around the Pebble deposit. View the article in Trout magazine and watch the video of TU's interview with Sarah.
The Russian business community recognizes Sakhalin Salmon Initiative as a leading example of corporate-public partnership
The Sakhalin Salmon Initiative (SSI) won first place at the 2009 Corporate Donor of Russia Awards in the category, "Best program demonstrating corporate philanthropy policy and social investment principles."
Launched in 2006 with the support of Sakhalin Energy Investment Company and the Wild Salmon Center, the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative unites government agencies, businesses, environmental non-profit organizations, and the general public in an effort to conserve and sustainably manage wild salmon on Sakhalin Island.
In its first four years, the SSI has coordinated several large-scale salmon conservation projects, including: efforts to combat salmon poaching; promotion of sustainable salmon fisheries management through market-based incentives; creation of a network of watershed councils; a Russian Academy of Sciences monitoring program for the endangered Sakhalin taimen; and the development of environmental education and community outreach programs.
The Corporate Donor of Russia Awards recognizes the best practices in corporate philanthropy in Russia to date and is organized by the Donor Forum, the Russian business newspaper Vedomosti (published jointly with The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times), and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
WSC and conservation partners design strategies to meet the foremost challenges facing Russia's globally significant salmon fisheries
The Wild Salmon Center hosted the third annual Russian Sustainable Fisheries Coalition Meeting in Portland, Oregon last November. More than 35 experts and key stakeholders converged at this meeting, including representatives from the nonprofit, government and private sectors. Goals of the meeting included: assessing the status and trends of commercial salmon fisheries in Russia; discussing barriers to sustainability on wild salmon populations such as illegal fisheries; and developing joint strategies to overcome barriers.
Following the Coalition meeting, eight of the Russians participated in an additional two day training program which included a workshop hosted by Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) staff in Seattle. This training comes at a critical time as five Russian salmon fisheries are currently seeking the MSC eco-label. It is essential that our colleagues understand the certification process so that they can effectively assist salmon fisheries in Russia that are seeking to become more sustainable.
In 2009, WSC commissioned the Pacific Salmon Fisheries Economic Valuation Report to determine the impact salmon have on regional and global economies.
The results were revealing. If Pacific Rim fisheries aren't properly managed, not only will wild salmon populations suffer, regional economies will be hit hard as well.
- The average annual catch is 432 million fish or about 1 million metric tons (based on 2003-2007 statistics).
- Of the $3 billion personal income generated from the salmon fishing industry, 43% was in the U.S., 32% percent in Russia, and 23% in Japan (based on 2007 statistics).
- Wild salmon fisheries directly support about 30,000 jobs annually (not counting secondary jobs from processing, transport, retail), and about half of those jobs are in Alaska.
At the Copenhagen climate talks in December, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) chose salmon as one of ten flagship species to highlight the way climate change is adversely affecting marine, terrestrial and freshwater habitats. For salmon, the warming of freshwater habitat may alter seasonal flows and food availability in their marine ranges may shift—providing major challenges to salmon in the coming years.
"These species highlight the effects of rising temperatures on both freshwater and marine ecosystems, and illustrate how climate change impacts on wild species can have a direct effect on economies." – excerpt from IUCN report, "Species and Climate Change"
Global effort to protect wilderness recognizes significance of salmon
The World Wilderness Conference took place last November in the beautiful Yucatan city of Merida, Mexico. The conference is a forum for sharing experiences, lesson learned and strategies for protecting wilderness areas and wild nature. WSC consultant Olga Krever was a keynote speaker and presented on conservation efforts in Russia, including our work in Kamchatka. She also had the honor of joining the president of Mexico in canceling a commemorative stamp of Kamchatka, one of five countries chosen for a wilderness stamp. Also in attendance were Laura Williams and Tricia Melnik from WSC's Western Pacific team.
Many great outcomes that came out of the conference, including the first international agreement on wilderness conservation signed by the governments of Mexico, Canada and the US, and a resolution of recommendations for conserving wilderness that was sent to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Laura and Olga were integral in making sure salmon conservation was included in the resolution with a recommendation that by 2015 Russia, the US, Canada and Japan work together in establishing protected area networks for key salmon rivers in the North Pacific region.
"Area 5" Agreement promotes cooperation between U.S. and Russian scientists
In recent years, fishery biologists in the U.S. and Russia have gained much knowledge about threats to wild salmon populations by studying interactions with hatchery-produced fish in both fresh water and marine environments. Both countries are committed to protecting valuable wild species while trying to create opportunities for hatchery and fishery development to meet growing demands in international markets. So the question becomes: how can salmon management policies and strategies resolve what historically have been two conflicting agendas?
In 2009, the Wild Salmon Center's and Ecotrust's State of the Salmon Program was successful in creating a unique, bilateral opportunity between Russian and US managers and scientists to exchange views on resolving these issues under the "Area 5" section of the US-Russian Agreement. This particular area of the agreement deals with protection of the environment and natural resources. As part of this bilaterally agreed workplan that identifies WSC as a key participant, State of the Salmon will host Russian scientists and policy makers at its May 2010 International Conference on ecological interactions between wild and hatchery salmon and convene bilateral discussions about opportunities to resolve hatchery-wild impact risks.
Wild Salmon Center convened 30 salmon scientists and community leaders in Montesano, Washington, on November 19th to present the results of a coastal salmon stronghold analysis. The meeting was a part of the larger Washington Coastal Conservation Needs Assessment project, supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Creative Partnership’s program and Grays Harbor County. WSC worked with local and regional salmon population experts to gather ratings on abundance, productivity, life history diversity and percent natural origin spawners for 117 populations. The goal of the event was to present preliminary results of the analyses in map form, gather recommendations for improvement and build camaraderie around the stronghold approach. A final presentation of results is slated for March 2010.
- January 31 - February 3, 2010: International Seafood Summit in Paris with WSC staff speaking on the future of certified wild salmon fisheries in Asia.
- May 4-7, 2010: State of the Salmon will host its international conference "Ecological Interactions between Wild and Hatchery Salmon" in Portland.
- August 2010: 2nd International Salmon Camp, hosted in Sakhalin by Sakhalin Salmon Initiative The Freshwater Trust, and the Siuslaw Institute.