Fishery Science & Research Institutes
The Russian Federation annually accomplishes a wide range of scientific research in the north-western part of the Pacific, including the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Japan Sea.
VNIRO (Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography) serves as the Moscow-based, from the studies of abiotic and biotic ambient conditions of commercial species to evaluation of biological and fishery productivity of water bodies, to the identification of regularities in the distribution patterns and reproduction of aquatic living resources, forecast of the state of their stocks and estimation of the allowable catch, protection of interests of national fisheries at the international level.
North Pacific research institutes include the TINRO-Center in Vladivostok (as a center fishery scientific institute for the Far Eastern Fishing Basin), KamchatNIRO in Kamchatka, SakhNIRO in Sakhalin, and MagadanNIRO in Magadan. These scientific institutes operate under the FFA Department of Science and Education.
To oversee and coordinate Pacific research programs, TINRO, established in 1925, and other research institutes have conduced annual expeditions since 1982 to survey biomass, distribution and ecological processes related to zooplankton, benthos, nekton, and nektobenthos in the Far-Eastern Seas, including the Sea of Okhotsk and West Bering Sea. They have identified and tracked key ecosystem processes over several oceanic-climactic cycles and measured impacts on a range of communities and species.
The main bulk of studies on the whole area of the Alaska Pollock habitat is being accomplished by the TINRO-Center, as soon as it has a specialized laboratory, «Alaska Pollock Laboratory» with ten scientists, and the specialized Base of Research Fleet (BIF-TINRO) having three large-tonnage specialized scientific-research vessels (of RTM «Atlantic-333» type) and several medium-tonnage vessels capable to fulfill the whole range of sea expedition studies on the whole area of the Far East seas and in the north-western part of the Pacific.
In certain areas like the East Sakhalin waters, West Kamchatka shelf, East Kamchatka, — studies include scientists from regional institutes and sometimes using rented vessels.
Research plans and operations. In 2010 the FFA approved a five year Complex program for scientific research for the interest of the Russian federation fishing industry for 2010 — 2014 with priority tasks for the Alaska pollock fishery. For both the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea, the program calls for studies, monitoring, and scientifically substantiated recommendations for the rational use of Alaska pollock.
During the last 15–20 years studies of biological resources of the Far East sea area, including the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea, have been conducted within the framework of complex 5-year programs. At present such program is being worked out for 2012–2016 period. These programs deal with researches of all elements and structures, as well as qualitative characteristics for bottom and pelagic communities on yearly basis, as well as analyses of multi-year changes in resources of fish fauna, invertebrates, plankton and benthic communities. Programs of expeditionary researches are worked out on the basis of the main points of the 5-year programs.
Annual surveys. TINRO conducted integrated studies of the Far East Fishing Basin (including Sea of Okhotsk and West Bering Sea) over the last three decades. After experimenting with various methods in the 1980s-1990s, TINRO developed current methods to survey stock abundance during breeding periods based on ichthyoplankton and trawling surveys combined with uninterrupted acoustic sounding. These studies use ichthyoplankton, trawling and echo sounding surveys combined with hydrological and biological observations to determine annual TACs and to gain information both on ecosystem structure and function.
Goals and main tasks of the annual survey in respect to Pollock fishery
- Study of regularities in Pollock distribution in spawning season;
- Accumulation of materials for studying the size-and-age structure and other biological data on Pollock in regions of commercial fleet operation;
- Estimations of bycatches of Pollock of smaller sizes than the industrial size (AD = 35 cm) at the main regions of commercial fishing activities;
- Study of bycatch composition at Pollock fishing;
- Accumulation and analysis of current information on the operation of the fleet engaged in Pollock fishing.
TAC Setting Process. VNIRO/TINRO play an important role in the TAC setting which process includes a carefully prescribed consultative process that takes two years and involves series of steps among various stakeholders.). The algorithm of setting TAC in Russia is given in appendix 2. The procedure of determining, discussing and setting TAC is a multi-stage process allowing comprehensive internal and external expertise of the proposed TAC.
The TAC setting procedure is preceded by a considerable amount of work on collecting and analysis of data performed by fisheries research institutes in Russia, noticeably for Pollock in the SOO and WBS — KamchatNIRO, MagadanNIRO, and TINRO.
After analyzing and processing the collected data on the status of aquatic biological resources the experts of the relevant research institutes and laboratories prepare TAC substantiation materials which are subsequently discussed at various levels.
Scientific Observers. VNIRO, TINRO, KamchatNIRO, SakhNIRO and MagadanNIRO deployed scientific observers work at the Pollock fishery usually aboard large and average vessels in accordance with agreements with private fishing companies. Scientific observers, majoring in ichthyology and having scientific degrees, work onboard harvesting vessels to determine compliance with fishing rules. They also monitor temporary bans in fishing zones to protect high concentrations of spawning and juvenile fish. As scientific observers, they also collect biological information used to estimate quantitative parameters such as size/age composition of fishery catches, correlation of genders, dynamic of gonads maturity, time-frames of spawning, and fertility of stocks. TINRO uses observer data to make short-term forecasts of ice, hydrologic and oceanic information and to make recommendations on fleet placement.
International Scientific Cooperation and Consultations. Russian scientists participate in PICES and its FUTURE program (to Forecast and Understand Trends, Uncertainty and Responses of North Pacific Marine Ecosystems.). This fora allows scientists to work with the international community in adopting the latest methods related to ecosystem management and adaptation to climate change. Russian scientists also work in NPAFC and its BASIS program (Bering-Aleutian Salmon International Survey).
Russian fishery scientists also share ideas with international colleagues involved with Alaska pollock fisheries. In these ways, international colleagues peer-review the work of Russian scientists. Russian scientists also participate with American colleagues at NOAA/NMFS involved with Bering Sea fishery science and management.
Russia and the US maintain the Intergovernmental Consultative Committee (ICC) with the objectives to maintain a mutually beneficial and equitable fisheries relationship through:
- cooperative scientific research and exchanges;
- reciprocal allocation of surplus fish resources in the respective national 200-mile zones, consistent with each nation’s laws and regulations;
- cooperation in the establishment of fishery joint ventures;
- general consultations on fisheries matters of mutual concern; and,
- cooperation to address illegal or unregulated fishing activities on the high seas of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea.