Sakhalin Salmon Initiative International Conference UpdateNews & Program Updates
November 19, 2006
For over two years, WSC and our partners on Sakhalin have been working to build the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative (SSI). SSI is a collaborative initiative led by the Wild Salmon Center to promote conservation and sustainable use of wild salmon and the ecosystems upon which they depend, to build institutional capacity for conservation, and to promote sustainable economic development on Sakhalin Island. After extensive stakeholder consultations, the SSI International Conference was held October 31 - November 2 in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to formally launch the SSI. The conference was the biggest event WSC has ever organized in Russia.
The SSI International Conference gathered over 200 participants from Sakhalin, Russia, Canada, Japan, Australia, Europe and the United States. It also united a diverse group of participants from the salmon world: local, regional and federal government; commercial and recreational fishing; indigenous communities; conservation groups; scientists and academics; oil companies and extractive industries. Several participants, each with decades of experience in Russian fisheries issues, commented that this was the widest collection of stakeholders they had ever seen at one event.
The conference was opened by Sakhalin Governor Ivan Malakhov, who emphasized the importance of salmon to Sakhalin's economy, culture and environment. Then, following opening remarks by WSC CEO Guido Rahr and Ian Craig of Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, the three signed a conference Declaration highlighting the need for international cooperation to conserve salmon and expressing the desire to continue building the SSI.
Participants spent the bulk of the conference in six working groups, working to identify long-term goals, short-term activities and key partners for implementing the SSI. Stakeholders agreed upon the following priorities:
- Prioritizing and protecting key habitat, and developing a management strategy for Sakhalin's Natural Reproduction Rivers;
- Ensuring best practices for natural resource development projects;
- Developing and expanding public awareness and education programs for children and adults;
- Improving commercial fish management and exploring sustainable fisheries market mechanisms;
- Establishing an organization on Sakhalin to coordinate implementation of SSI activities.
Conference participants included several foreign experts who shared relevant experience from their parts of the world. USDA Forest Service Deputy Chief Joel Holtrop discussed restoration efforts in National Forests; Rob Walton of NOAA discussed fishery and hatchery management in the US Pacific Northwest; Amanda Bigelow of the International Riverfoundation (Australia) discussed restoration partnerships, and Satoshi Kameyama of Japan's National Institute of Environmental Studies discussed fisheries monitoring and management in Japan. These international participants made important contributions to plenary sessions and work groups.
In a thank-you letter presented to WSC by the Sakhalin representative office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs following the event, officials praised the conference as "an unconditional success and wonderful example of regional cooperation between Russia and the USA," and thanked international participants for their "willingness to share their knowledge and experience in the areas of conservation and rational use of salmon populations."
Over the next several weeks, WSC will work with our Russian partners to complete the conference resolution and action plans, and also prepare a detailed report on conference outcomes and next steps.
We look forward to keeping you posted as the SSI continues to develop.