Sakhalin Island Regional Salmon FIP


pink salmon (O. gorbuscha) 

Regional Fishery Information

Volume – 110,200 mt (2002-2011 average)

Gear – coastal trap nets, beach seines, gillnets, in-river weirs (RUZs)

Location – Russian Far East, coastal waters surrounding Sakhalin Island (2-3 km of shore) and in lower river areas. UN FAO major fishing area 61: Pacific, Northwest

Markets – primarily Russia with increasing interest from U.S. and Europe

FIP Stakeholders

Ocean Outcomes, SakhNIRO, SakhRybVod, SKTU, Sakhalin Salmon Initiative Center, Sakhalin Environment Watch, Aniva Wild Salmon, Sakhalin Regional Fishing Association, Smirnikhovsky Regional Fishing Association, Nogliki Regional Fishing Association, Aniva Bay Regional Fishing Association, WSC, Smirnikhovsk Watershed Council

Qualifying Producers and Sub-Regions

The Sakhalin Island Regional Salmon FIP serves as an umbrella FIP to foster fishery improvements across the whole region and also as a recruitment mechanism to engage fisheries region-wide.  While our ultimate goal is to engage and encourage as many salmon producers as possible to make improvements, not all producers are considered qualified. In order to become a qualified participant, we request that potential participants sign a FIP contract or multi-party FIP agreement. Producers currently qualified under the Sakhalin Island Regional Salmon FIP can be found below:

  • There are currently no qualifying producers on Sakhalin Island

Stalled FIPs (Currently Non-Qualifying)

Regional Information

Sakhalin Island is informally divided into six areas: 1) Aniva Bay, 2) Southeastern coast, 3) Terpenie Bay, 4) Northeastern coast, 5) Northwestern coast, 6) Southwestern coast. Differences among areas in hatchery presence, potential fishery interceptions, stock components, and protected species may need to be addressed in individual action plans. For example, the southern areas are more developed than the northern areas and include more hatcheries, and in the Northwest, the fishery may intercept pink salmon originating from the depleted Amur River stock.

Pink salmon comprise the vast majority of the Sakhalin commercial catch, and substantial numbers of chum salmon are caught as well. However, most Sakhalin chum are produced by hatcheries, especially in the southern areas. Pink salmon show differentiation between odd and even year runs, and three stock components (early, middle, late) have been identified on the basis of run timing. The early pink salmon run, which overwinters in the Sea of Japan, is considered depleted. Salmon are primarily caught using coastal trap nets, and only fish harvested by trap net have been included in the certification process.

Highlights and Key Issues

  • Catch, escapement and hatchery release information is often not publicly available at the area level. This information is needed to assess the fishery.
  • Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing is a significant problem in Sakhalin as it is throughout the Russian Far East. One study estimated that about 31% of households in the Aniva Bay area are involved in poaching activities.
  • Potential fishery, genetic and ecosystem impacts of hatchery programs on wild salmon have not been well studied although there are some initial activities underway in several areas to evaluate level of hatchery strays into wild salmon spawning areas.
  • Returns of pink salmon to the Aniva Bay area have been low since 2011. There was discussion of closing the Aniva Bay fishery in 2013, but ultimately a limited season was allowed with restrictions on net length aimed at increasing the escapement.
  • Fishery impacts need to be estimated for some endangered and depleted species, such as Sea of Japan and Amur River pink salmon, Sakhalin taimen, Kaluga sturgeon, Sakhalin (green) sturgeon, some crab species, masu salmon and wild summer run chum salmon.
  • There is considerable controversy about the usage of RUZs (in-river weirs), which typically block the entire stream channel and may catch all target and non-target species migrating upstream. Fish caught with this gear type were excluded from MSC certification assessments.
  • Escapement goals are not regularly re-evaluated, and correlations between the stock status of monitored streams and non-monitored streams need to be demonstrated.

Actions for Improving Fishery Sustainability

Several FIP activities will likely need to be implemented by FIP participants to ensure the fishery is in compliance with minimum MSC benchmarks. Examples of these activities include:

  • Assembling available information on escapement goals and actual spawning escapements, hatchery releases, and fishery catches.
  • Providing information on all fishery catches of the target stock; including interceptions by other fisheries (including the high seas net fishery) and illegal harvests, to improve stock status information.
  • Assessing hatchery impacts on wild populations by implementing a hatchery marking program and estimating proportions of hatchery fish in wild spawning areas, hatchery broodstock, and fishery catches.
  • Implementing fishery-independent monitoring programs to collect information on incidental catches of protected species such as Sakhalin taimen, Sakhalin (green) sturgeon, and Kaluga sturgeon.
  • Improving regulation compliance, enforcement, and verification programs by working with local communities, organizing anti-poaching brigades, and using third-party verifications to independently monitor compliance.
  • Establishing a more formal fishery client consortium to manage the FIP activities and related certification efforts and represent interests of regional participants.
  • Informing local stakeholders and watershed councils about the fishery improvement process and providing opportunities for them to offer input.
  • Creating a website for sharing fishery information and research results.
  • Establishing traceability (for example through additional MSC chain of custody [CoC] assessments) to prevent IUU fisheries from entering the sustainable supply chain and to ensure a verifiable chain of custody for companies that want to source from FIP fisheries.

FIP Successes

  • In 2011 and 2012, an innovative satellite monitoring project was conducted to verify the legality of commercial salmon trap nets, resulting in a reduction of violations by 64%.
  • A landmark agreement between commercial fishers and environmental groups was signed to undertake an independent assessment of the Taranai River spawning escapement in Aniva Bay. 
  • Also in Aniva Bay, an ongoing hatchery mark recapture study has shown that the proportion of hatchery pink salmon returning to local rivers is much lower than previously thought. This has generated discussion in the area about the value of using pink salmon hatcheries to boost local fishery harvests.
  • In order to address an extremely low return of pink salmon stocks to Aniva Bay in 2013, the management system essentially closed the fishery, demonstrating an effective fishery regulation action in response to historically unusual circumstances.  
  • Yuzh-Morflot, a floating processor that processes MSC salmon from NE Sakhalin, made improvements to separate and trace MSC certified salmon and received the MSC CoC certification in July.

Ocean Outcomes Contact

Brian Caouette, Founder and Director of Programs, Ocean Outcomes

Local Contact

Sergei Didenko, Director, Sakhalin Salmon Initiative Center +7-924-485-0140


Sakhalin State University, Department of Sociology. 2011. On the results of public survey "Salmon Poaching in the Regions of Sakhalin Oblast and Assessment of Organizational Effectiveness of Sakhalin Salmon Initiative Center (SSI Center).”