Russia-Ukraine conflict impacting salmon research project in Northern Pacific

Scientists are working to better determine the life cycles of salmon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Russia-Ukraine conflict is having ripple effects across the globe, with scientists now having to modify parts of a massive study that was designated to examine the life cycles of salmon.

The Northern Pacific acts as the world’s breadbasket for the fish, with a recent study putting the population north of 600 million, but the environment’s constantly changing patterns have caused experts to question the adaptability of the species.

To help answer questions on their lifecycle, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and organizations from several other countries formed the 2022 Pan-Pacific Winter High Seas Expedition to collect important data.

According to the expedition, research ships from Canada, Russia and the U.S. were each assigned territory in the North Pacific to collect water samples, catch salmon for analysis and sample other marine life that prey on the fish.


"External developments required modifications to U.S. participation in the Winter High Seas Expedition aboard the Russian vessel TINRO. U.S. citizens did not board the TINRO, and without a U.S. Chief Scientist onboard the ship, the TINRO cannot conduct research within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone," Lauren Gaches, Director of NOAA Fisheries Public Affairs, stated.

The data collected by the vessels is expected to help map out how salmon and steelhead migrate and help determine what causes the fish to return to freshwater sources for spawning.

While NOAA did not state whether the apparent loss of some data collection would impact the study, the project throughout the Northern Pacific continues.

Experts hope the data could eventually help with population management and determine if warming waters impact life cycles or migration patterns.