Third Workshop on Okhotsk Sea and Adjacent Areas

Pacific Scientific Research Fisheries Centre (TINRO-Centre), Vladivostok, Russia
June 4-6, 2003

Time and location

The North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), the Pacific Scientific Research Fisheries Centre (TINRO-Centre), and the Census of Marine Life (CoML) announce a workshop on "Okhotsk Sea and Adjacent Areas", to be held June 4-6, 2003, at TINRO-Centre in Vladivostok, Russia. The 12 page PROGRAMME SCHEDULE and POSTER LIST can be downloaded as a pdf file (0.5mb).


The workshop will bring together a team of international scientists with an interest in the Okhotsk Sea and adjacent areas to review what is known, to learn of recent investigations and new knowledge, and to consider their meaning. The first two workshops were organized by PICES in 1995 and 1998 and generated important publications in the PICES Scientific Report Series [Vol. 6 (1996)] and Vol. 12(1998)]. The desirability of publishing selected papers from the workshop in the primary literature will be discussed at the close of the workshop.

Since the mid-1990s an unprecedented number of expeditions have taken place in the Sea of Okhotsk, adding in major ways to the scientific understanding of the physics, chemistry, and biology of the Sea. New short- and long-term observations of the physical state of the Sea of Okhotsk resulting from such programs have provided evidence of dense water formation on the northern continental shelf of the Sea in winter; this water eventually enters the North Pacific Ocean through the Kurile straits as prototype North Pacific Intermediate Water. Chemical studies have shown that it is likely that this water is the conduit for a major flux of carbon into the deep Pacific. Estimates of the volume flux of this water from the Okhotsk to the Pacific have been constrained by new measurements. At the same time, a modern examination of historical atmospheric and sea ice observations from the Sea of Okhotsk suggests that there is a delicate balance of large-scale atmospheric patterns over the subarctic Pacific that is maintained via ocean-atmosphere-ice interactions in the Sea of Okhotsk-Bering Sea region. Relatively small changes in this balance appear to be strongly correlated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which is known to affect climate, fisheries, and oceanographic properties across a vast region of the North Pacific. Both the new observations of the Sea of Okhotsk circulation, and the reanalysis of older climate data from this area, have yielded results that highlight the growing importance of the Sea of Okhotsk region in climate-related studies.

The Sea of Okhotsk is the primary fishery region in the Russian Far East, providing 65-70% of total Russian catch. Walleye pollock, herring, Pacific salmon, cod, flatfish and crab are the main commercially important species. Recent assessments suggest that there are about 230 million tons (mt) of benthic biota in the Okhotsk Sea, 35 mt of fishes, 3.5 mt of squids and 0.5 mt of marine mammals. Dramatic changes have occurred in total fish biomass with declines from 10.1 million tonnes to approximately 5.1-5.4 million tonnes in the upper pelagic layer in the northern Sea of Okhotsk. With the collapse of the Japanese sardine stocks, the pelagic fish biomass declined from 3 million tonnes in the latter half of the 1980s to 0.4 million tonnes in the southern part in recent years. There are rising concerns about declines in Kamchatka crab stocks, about health of the grey whale population, about present and potential impact from Amur River discharge and, last but not least, about impacts related to oil and gas developments. The latter includes not only drilling and production facilities but also seismic explorations, pipeline construction (both marine and land based, i.e. affecting salmon spawning rivers) and so on.

Scientific Program

The purpose of the Workshop is to provide a forum to discuss new observational, modelling, and theoretical results concerning physical, chemical, and biological (including human impacts) processes in the Okhotsk Sea, their interactions with the North Pacific, and their bio-physical linkages through all trophic levels of the Okhotsk Sea ecosystem. The Workshop will include 2½ days of plenary sessions, posters, and informal opportunities for discussion. The afternoon of the final day will synthesize what has been learned during the workshop and to capture the main points of interest for the Okhotsk Sea chapter of the PICES North Pacific Ecosystem Status Report.

Session 1: Evidence and consequences of decadal-scale climate variation in the Okhotsk Sea and northwestern Pacific Ocean (Convenors: Steven Riser, Sei-Ichi Saitoh)

This session will consider long-term changes in the factors affecting the Okhotsk Sea ecosystem(s) and adjacent areas, especially those changes that are caused by climate change. Special attention will be given to talks that consider changes that have occurred within the recent period (1999-2003) and their relevance to historical observations.

Session 2: Physical and chemical processes in the Okhotsk Sea and northwestern Pacific Ocean (Convenors: Yutaka Nagata, Vyacheslav Lobanov)

This session will consider new information on physical and chemical oceanographic processes in the Sea of Okhotsk and adjacent subarctic Pacific. Topics of special interest include:

  • Water mass formation 
  • Circulation 
  • Exchange with the North Pacific 
  • The role of ice processes 
  • Mesoscale eddies and tides based on observations and modeling
Session 3: Biological variability: evidence and consequences (Convenors: Elena Dulepova, TBD)

This session will consider the response of the Okhotsk Sea ecosystem to the key physical, chemical and biological processes - generally focusing on interannual and longer temporal scales. The session will be subdivided ecologically covering topics such as:

  • Observations and models of primary and secondary production and lower trophic level variability [NPZ: nutrient, phytoplankton, zooplankton]. New findings from satellite/observational intercalibration studies will be important. Advances in modelling lower tropic levels in the Okhotsk Sea and adjacent areas 
  • Ecology of commercial and non-commercial fishes and squids and associated fauna
  • Observations of variability at higher trophic levels (seabirds and marine mammals) and their effects
Session 4: Anthropogenic impacts on the Okhotsk Sea ecosystem(s) (Convenors: Tatiana Belan, Keiichi Mito, Vladimir Radchenko)

This session will consider topics concerning commercially harvested species and other human effects on Okhotsk Sea ecosystem(s) including:

  • The abundance and exploitation of living marine resources 
  • Observations of the effects of oil and gas development on marine ecosystems 
  • The development and effects of aquaculture in coastal areas 
  • Changes in contaminant levels 
  • Other impacts 
Session 5: Ecosystem Status – Okhotsk Sea Chapter (Moderator: Skip McKinnell)

PICES has begun to compile observations and descriptions of long-term changes throughout the North Pacific Ocean and its marginal seas into a comprehensive North Pacific Ecosystem Status Report. The report attempts to address questions such as:

  • What is the current status of the Okhotsk Sea ecosystem and why? 
  • How does it differ from historical observations? 
  • How does this compare with other regions in the North Pacific? 

This session will attempt to synthesize what was presented at the workshop and to facilitate a discussion with a view to reaching consensus on the status of the Okhotsk Sea ecosystem; what is known and what needs to be learned.

Scientific Program Committee

Members of the Scientific Program Committee for this workshop were nominated by PICES Committees and include:

Tatiana Belan (Russia/MEQ), Elena Dulepova (Russia/FIS), Vyacheslav. B. Lobanov (Russia/POC), Skip McKinnell (PICES), Keiichi Mito (Japan/FIS), Yutaka Nagata (Japan/POC), Vladimir Radchenko (Russia/BIO), Stephen C. Riser (U.S.A./POC) and Sei-Ichi Saitoh (Japan/CCCC-MONITOR)

Local Organizing Committee

Gennady Khen (TINRO), Sergei Klushin (POI), Vyacheslav. B. Lobanov (POI), Viktor Markotsev (TINRO), Svetlana Anikeeva (TINRO)

Abstract Deadline

Sessions will include invited speakers and contributed talks and posters. All interested persons should provide extended abstracts (2-3 pages including important figures and tables) of their presentation by May 1, 2003 (note the earlier deadline for Registration/visa application). Abstracts should include a title, names of all authors, institute, mailing address, and email address of each of the contributing scientists. Using a sample abstract header file (in MS Word with correct fonts and format) will help. These abstracts should be submitted as an MS Word attachment by e-mail (with subject "Okhotsk Sea abstract") to PICES (ecostatus@PICES.int). Please name the file with your family name (e.g. mckinnell.doc). Indicate a session number (from list of sessons) for your abstract and indicate your preference for oral or poster.


The poster boards at TINRO-Centre are 115 cm x 85 cm, and some are 100 cm x 80 cm. The longer dimension is the height, not the width. Since the boards are made of plastic, the posters should be taped to the boards.


Any person who wishes to participate in the symposium should send the registration form by April 14, 2003 to the Local Organizing Committee by e-mail (preferred) or by fax (+7 4232-300-752). No registration fee is required. Foreigners must also include the data page of their passports (scanned or faxed)


The language for oral and poster presentations at the workshop is English.

Financial Support

Limited funds are available to assist scientists to attend the meeting. Priority will be given to applicants requiring only partial support (e.g. airfare or hotel/allowance). Candidates should apply for financial support to ecostatus@PICES.int (using the phrase "Financial Support" as the email Subject).


The city of Vladivostok is served by airlines operating from China, Japan, and Korea. Travel from North America to Vladivostok via Japan requires taking domestic transportation from your port of arrival in Japan to either Niigata or Toyama, and then Vladivostok Air to Russia. Travel from North America to Vladivostok via Korea can be done entirely on Korean Air via Seoul, on Tuesdays and Saturdays only.

Information about airport<>hotel transportation will be posted on this site at a later date.

Hotel Accommodation

Hotels in Vladivostok have variable prices and facilities for international guests. A block of 20 rooms has been reserved by TINRO-Center for foreign travelers at the Hyundai Hotel (US$150/night, breakfast included, confirmatio number (confirmation # 800613). Other less expensive hotels include the Versailles Hotel and the Vladivostok Hotel. To make reservations and/or for other hotel information, contact the Local Organizing Committee.


Foreigners require a visa to enter Russia. In addition to a fully completed Registration Form, bona fide foreign participants to the workshop must provide a fax copy of the photograph/data page of their passport to Okhotsk Sea Workshop Local Organizing Committee (fax: +7-4232 300 752). Deadline is April 14, 2003. Please ensure that the mailing address is complete as the letter of invitation will be mailed to that address.

Currency and Exchange

Participants should keep in mind that only hotels, airlines, some big stores and restaurants accept credit cards (Visa and MasterCard are most widely used). For all other purposes, e.g. souvenir shopping and daily expenses, US dollars (cash) is the best choice (the current exchange rate is about 31 Roubles for 1 USD). There are banking machines around the city (though not very many of them) if someone needs cash.


The average temperature in Vladivostok in June is 13.8ºC. Prevailing temperatures are about 16ºC during the day and 11ºC at night although these can vary from 4.4 to 30ºC.

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