Sakhalin Salmon Prioritization
The Russian Prioritization is based off the work of this article and has been adopted by scientists throughout the Russian Far East. This index provides a methodology and data output that is being actively used by the Russian Federal Fisheries agencies for prioritizing protected areas.
We present results of an assessment that ranks the conservation value of river basins supporting salmonids across Sakhalin Island in the Russian Federation. Using digital elevation data, we delineated a total of 217 river basins greater than five km in size across the island, assigned them to each of six different ecoregions, and attributed each basin with scores using parameter values representing four major criteria: salmonid species diversity, river habitat, threats and characteristics of the human community.
We devised a series of formulae that transformed these parameters into weighted scores that were summed to arrive at a total score used to rank the importance of each basin for purposes of salmon conservation. Parameters used in the assessment included species richness (pink Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, chum O. keta, masu O. masou, coho O. kisutch, Sakhalin taimen Parahucho perryi, Siberian taimen Hucho taimen), area of spawning ground and spawning ground quality, two measures to reflect proximity to salmon hatchery facilities, number of road and pipeline river crossings, expert judgment of the threat of poaching, and presence of native communities. Scoring was based on a scale from 0 to 100, and final scores from our assessment ranged from 28.6 to 78.9, with the highest rank going to the Langri River, located in a unique ecoregion in the northwestern part of Sakhalin Island. This ecoregion, and northern Sakahlin in general, ranked higher overall due to a combination of higher species diversity (owing to it’s proximity to the species-rich Amur River in neighboring Khabarovsk region), generally intact habitat and fewer threats. Results of the assessment were deliberated on by a range of experts in a workshop held in Yuzhno-Sakalinsk during January 2007 to arrive at a shortlist of rivers that included the top-ranked basins within each ecoregion to be considered for special protection. We hope our results can be used to advance efforts for salmonid conservation in this rapidly developing region in the Russian Far East.