For the first time, specialists working with all species of taimen came together.
Taimen are the largest members of the trout, salmon and char family. There are five species, including the elusive sea run taimen (Parahucho perryi), and the Siberian taimen (Hucho taimen) which can grow to be over a 100 pounds in size.
Taimen, like many other predators, are vulnerable to habitat loss and overfishing, and members of this group of salmonid fish have been declining throughout much of their range.
In December, the State of the Salmon (a program of WSC) convened a workshop at the annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology in Auckland, New Zealand. For the first time, a group of scientists, conservationists and key stakeholders working on all species of taimen came together to present and discuss what is known about these unusual, mysterious and increasingly threatened fish species. There were nearly 20 experts from around the world at the workshop, including representatives from Russia, Japan, Austria, and Mongolia. Although Chinese representatives were unable to attend the workshop, we are collaborating with several scientists working on a very rare taimen species in China.
The workshop provided an opportunity to share important new information about the biology and status of taimen and participants made progress on determining the current conservation status of each species. Much of the deliberations focused on Siberian taimen, which have had a dramatic decline in range and abundance over the last 50 years. Russian scientist Lev Zhivotovsky presented on the concept of genetically-defined “conservation units,” a strategy to prioritize conservation efforts in each region. This is an important milestone, and represents a new, scientifically-grounded approach that will help guide our future research and conservation work on taimen.
Workshop attendees plan to complete a technical paper for peer review summarizing the biology, status, and needed conservation actions to protect these species. The manuscript will be completed in time for the next World Conservation Union (IUCN) congress in South Korea in September.