Explorers Connect

Great Salmon Tour

OtherJames Hipkiss

Last year I started an effort to put together a series of global expeditions for 2014 that I called the Great Salmon Tour. Unfortunately, unsuccessful efforts to raise money and put together a dedicated team tanked the project. Thus, instead I had to embark on my own adventure and get a paid job working on recovering sturgeon and create habitat for native fish species in the Mississippi River. However, I have not given up on the project to travel around the world to document the diversity of salmon fishes and how local communities are linked socially and culturally to their native salmonids. What I need is a partner(s) that will be dedicated to help realizing the project.

The person(s) should have experience or at least stamina and will to work to make expeditions happen, from idea to finish, including working towards getting funding. What I bring is scientific legitimacy (i am a biologist with many years of experience), contacts for access to areas, and a developed concept. The idea is to let audiences experience through film, pictures, and articles the search for the salmon fishes and the ways they nourish cultural, spiritual, and personal relationships with human communities. The aim for 2013 was to visit Arctic Canada and Inuit fishing for Arctic charr, Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico to find the Mexican lost trout, Lake Baikal in Russia to join fishermen fishing for the famous omul and its spawning runs in rivers, and to visit Slovenia to join fly fishermen fishing for the rare Danube river salmon in the frigid European winter. I also have contacts for finding the tigris trout in Kurdish Iraq but that may be a little sketchy at the moment. The aim is to raise awareness of the diversity of salmon fishes, the threat to this diversity, and the diversity of cultures that people has forged with the different species. When we lose biodiversity, we not only lose species we also lose our own cultural diversity.

Started in 2010, the GST traveled to remote villages along Yukon River to cover the salmon subsistence fishery of native Alaskans, to not so remote California to meet with small boat salmon fishermen and women to talk about the status of salmon and how they see their future, to mountainous areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet the scientist studying the unique diversity of trout in the Balkans, and to nomads on the Mongolian steppe to learn about how taimen salmon is incorporated into local folklore and faith.