Salmon, Pink, Spring , humpback

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Trap
Capture area — North West Pacific (FAO 61)
Stock area — South-Kuril
Stock detail — All Areas
Certification — Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Picture of Salmon, Pink, Spring , humpback

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

The Iturup Island pink and chum salmon fishery was certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in September 2009. The fishery was re-certified in August 2015. Illegal fishing and the impact of high seas drift netting and hatcheries on wild populations are issues for Russian Pacific salmon fisheries.


Pacific salmon occur from California north along the Pacific coast throughout the Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean waters adjacent to Alaska. The five species (Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink and Sockeye) are members of a large family of fish known as the Salmonidae, which are abundant throughout the temperate zones of the northern and southern hemispheres. Pacific salmon are a shorter lived species and much more prolific breeders than Atlantic salmon.
Pink salmon are the smallest of the Pacific salmon species with an average weight of 3.5 to 4 lbs (1.6 1.8 kg) and an average length of 20 25 inches (50 64 cms). Pink salmon have the shortest lifespan amongst the Pacific salmon, maturing and completing their life-cycle within two years, and have a rapid rate of growth. Although pinks are anadromous, they do not remain in freshwater for an extended period, and are also semelparous (typically die after spawning). Pinks spawn much closer to the ocean than most other Pacific salmon (usually within 30 miles of the river mouth). Females will lay 1200 to 1900 eggs between late June and early September, and the eggs hatch in late winter or early spring. Although pink salmon have low fecundity they produce large eggs which helps to ensure their resilience. As soon as they emerge from the gravel the fry migrate to the ocean and return to freshwater after 18 months to spawn.

Stock information

Stock Area


Stock information

Pink salmon are the most abundant of the Pacific salmon and are found throughout the north Pacific. There are two abundant species of Pacific salmon in the Sakhalin-Kuril region: pink and chum salmon.
Three large stocks in the Sakhalin-Kuril region, provide more than half of the Russian pink salmon catch in the Okhotsk Sea and amount to half of all pink salmon catches in the Far East of Russia. Russia accounted for 67 % of the global pink salmon harvest in 2011/12.
Pink salmon catches in the Sakhalin-Kuril region average (2001-2014) 123,261 tonnes. The largest catches are taken from the east coast of Sakhalin (70.4 % on average) and the South Kuril Islands (Iturup and Kunashir) (26.8 % on average). The island chain known as the Kurils stretches north across the Pacific Ocean from the Japanese island of Hokkaido to the southern tip of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Owing to their location along the Pacific shelf edge and the confluence of Okhotsk Sea gyre and the southward Oyashio Current, the Kuril islands are surrounded by waters that are among the most productive in the North Pacific, supporting a wide range and high abundance of marine life.

Russia’s fisheries research institute TINRO expects the country’s wild salmon harvest to reach 400,000-420,000 metric tonnes in 2015. Catches in 2014 were estimated to have reached 359,000t (above the institute’s catch recommendation of 351,000t but below its forecast, issued in May 2014, of 373,000t.). Pink salmon made up over 40% of 2014’s catch at 147,600t. This was below the 194,000t forecast by TINRO in May - as pink salmon apparently usually make up 60-77 of the total. The catch for the Kuril Islands in 2014 was 22,500t compared to the predicted or forecast catch of 40,000t.

Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) reproducing in rivers of the Okhotsk Sea Basin have a complex population structure. Populations near the shores and in rivers are distinguished by the timing of their runs. The Okhotsk Sea pink salmon have three such populations: two summer runs, early and late, and a fall run. The early pink salmon run near the shores occurs in July (northern coast of the Okhotsk Sea), the late run in August (western Kamchatka and eastern Sakhalin), and the fall run in September (southern Kuril Islands). The Iturup Island pink salmon return currently averages 18 million fish per year and has varied from 6 to 32 million. Annual fry-adult survival of Iturup pink salmon is typically 2-10% and is among the highest in the Russian Far East.

In Russia, the vast majority of hatchery production occurs in the Sakhalin Region (including the Kuril Islands). Hatchery bred fish are used to supplement harvests and in the recovery of declining populations. On Iturup Island the contribution of hatchery bred fish to the harvest is large (more than 50%). Hatchery released fish impact on wild stocks. Of particular concern is the impact of the fishery and hatchery programs on two rare lake spawning chum salmon populations on the island. Gidrostroy (the client fishing company) has built and started operating two new hatcheries since the fishery was certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2009. Although these hatcheries were built away from significant wild salmon populations (something unique in the Russian Far East), the effect of these programs on wild stocks has not been evaluated. Ongoing hatchery marking and sampling programs are just beginning to provide critical information on the impacts of the expanding hatchery programs on local wild chum and pink salmon populations.
Driftnet fisheries for salmon in the Russian EEZ also impact on fish returning to rivers to spawn.


The Iturup Island pink and chum salmon fishery was certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in September 2009. The 125-mile (201-km) long island is located near the southern end of the Kuril Island chain and is controlled by Russia. The unit of certification includes the northeastern portion of Iturup Island fished by the client fishing company J.S.C. Gidrostroy. The fishery targets pink salmon from mid-July to September and chum salmon from September to November using stationary fish traps set along the coastline. Wild and hatchery pink and chum salmon are caught, processed and exported to Russian, Chinese, South Korean and Japanese markets. Products are then redistributed in North America and Europe.
The fishery was re-certified in August 2015.

Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing is a problem in almost all Russian salmon fisheries, although the scope of the problem varies widely by fishery (species and location). In Russia illegal fishing exceeds the legal catch by more than 25%. These fisheries comprise 31% of total Russian salmon harvest. A significant amount of illegal fishing in Russia is associated with stripping of roe or eggs for domestic and international markets. Measures recommended to reduce illegal fishing include observer programs, on-site inspection of fishing areas, catch verification, traceability measures, and intergovernmental agreements on IUU fishing. Elimination of quota based management in favour of escapement based management has helped reduce IUU fishing.

Capture Information

The fishery targets pink salmon from mid-July to September and chum salmon in September and November. The catch is delivered to local on-shore processing facilities. Fish caught in trap nets attached to the shoreline with net leads, which are tied to shore by leads, called central wings. These wings usually have a line length from 200-600 meters. They, together with wings joined to them funnel fish into large net pens. These traps are constructed of 30 mm web mesh size for pinks and 38 mm for chum. The wing is hung of web of a brighter color, which is a visual (not physical) barrier for the species being harvested. The mesh size is selected to avoid gilling fish that are 75 mm to 100 mm in size for both species. Fish are collected from trap boxes by gathering the mesh to crowd fish which are then spilled into the live hold of small boats, called “kungas.” Kungas are essentially floating fish tanks with water-filled hulls. Nets are worked from small dories and kungas towed by small tugboats. Minimal fish sorting occurs at the traps when the nets are hauled and fish are poured into the kungas. Some sorting at the traps occurs when fish are moved from the traps into kungas by lifting nets by hand. The fishermen can release non-target species as they are visible in the shallows of the nets or when in the kungas. All fish retained are required to be delivered to the fish plants.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Anchovy, anchovies
Arctic char
Herring or sild
Salmon, Atlantic (Farmed)
Salmon, Chinook, King Salmon
Salmon, Chum, Keta, Calico or Dog salmon
Salmon, Coho , Silver, White
Salmon, Pink, Spring , humpback
Salmon, Sockeye , Red Salmon, Bluebacks, Redfish
Sprat, whitebait
Trout, Rainbow
Tuna, albacore
Tuna, bigeye
Tuna, skipjack
Tuna, yellowfin

Portley, N., P. Sousa, B. Lee-Harwood, C. Hendrich, K. Balliet. 2014. Global Sustainability Overview of Pacific Salmon Fisheries. Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Foundation. 36pp.;