Opala RiverProtected & Priority Areas
The Opala River, located in southwestern Kamchatka, is one of the most productive and diverse wild salmon rivers in the North Pacific and home to all six species of Pacific salmon. The Wild Salmon Center is working with local partners and stakeholders to better conserve this pristine salmon ecosystem.
The Opala basin's location, almost completely surrounded by previously designated nature reserves and parks, makes for a unique protection opportunity. At least four IUCN endangered animal species inhabit the area, as well as 19 species listed in the Russian Federation's Red Book. Rare and endemic species of the area include the Arctic falcon (Falco gyrfalcon) and the Kamchatka pearl oyster (Dahurinaia middendorffi). The creation of a salmon refuge on the Opala River will close the gap and improve the situation for not only rare animal species, but also the rich salmon populations that swim in the river and its tributaries.
Through the leadership of our partner organization on Kamchatka, the Wild Fishes and Biodiversity Foundation, the Opala watershed is in the final stages of protected area designation. It has passed the federal "expertiza" scientific assessment and is awaiting an official decree from the governor of Kamchatka.The Opala also has high economic and cultural value for the region. As an important reproduction center for Pacific salmon, the Opala makes a very substantial and valuable contribution to the coastal harvests of Kamchatka fisheries. Ecotourism and sport fishing companies are active on the river, as well.