Where We Work
Salmon are a symbol, a treasure and hope for the people of Sakhalin Island.
Sakhalin Island, only the size of Massachusetts, is home to 11 salmon species and is the third most abundant salmon region in the world after Alaska and Kamchatka. Its rich marine and freshwater ecosystems support some of the Pacific Rim's rarest and most commercially valuable populations of salmon, including the critically endangered taimen. Fishing is the second largest industry on the island, supplying 20% of global Pacific salmon catch and generating $500 million in personal income annually.
Sakhalin Island is more populated than many remote regions of the Russian Far East and also supports a large oil industry. Expansion of oil and coal development and related infrastructure, in addition to large-scale poaching, are endangering sensitive salmon ecosystems. The Wild Salmon Center is working to identify and safeguard priority salmon strongholds to ensure a balanced approach to conservation and development on Sakhalin.
Wild Salmon Center has brought together a broad and diverse array of stakeholders to leverage resources toward wild salmon conservation. Priority salmon-producing river systems were identified through vigorous scientific assessment, and are now the focus of efforts to combat poaching, restore spawning areas, and obtain permanent legal protection. WSC helped partners on Sakhalin Island in their efforts to re-establish the 166,000 acre Vostochny Refuge, which protects two entire ocean-draining river basins, the Vengeri and Pursh-Pursh rivers, and some of the last intact whole forests on Sakhalin Island.
Building conservation capacity
We are building conservation capacity on Sakhalin through a network of public salmon councils. They are leading efforts on anti-poaching, stream restoration and monitoring, public education, and involving communities in watershed management. In 2006 the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative (SSI) was established to rally residents around healthy salmon rivers and fisheries with a committee of more than 20 local organizations, educational institutions and businesses coordinated by the SSI. In 2008 Sakhalin’s first public salmon council was created, and residents began to mobilize around wild salmon protection in the face of threats like oil and gas extraction and large-scale poaching. Sakhalin is now home to five public salmon councils, operated with guidance from WSC and regional partners, which serve as a model for new watershed councils on the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Russian Far East mainland.
Promoting sustainable fisheries
Wild salmon fisheries, one of the region's two leading industries, are the foundation of Sakhalin's socioeconomic and ecological welfare. Since the first Russian fishery achieved Marine Stewardship Council eco-label status in 2009, there has been growing interest among Sakhalin commercial fishing companies to implement environmentally responsible fishing practices. Demonstrating their commitment to these practices will enable Sakhalin companies to access new markets and reap increased economic benefits. These companies also partner with local watershed councils to prevent poaching, protect habitat, and monitor development impacts on salmon fisheries.