Thursday, 12 January 2017

Salmon Watch 2017 Conference

Monday, 9 January 2017

New research finds salmon farming contributes to sea lice infestation on sea trout as valuable stocks decline

Sea Liced Trout
Monday, 9th January 2017: The Board of Inland Fisheries Ireland has welcomed new research by scientists from Inland Fisheries Ireland and Argyll Fisheries Trust (Scotland) which found that sea trout carry significantly higher levels of sea lice infestation closer to marine salmon farms. Researchers examined sea lice levels over 25 years from more than 20,000 sea trout. The sea trout were sampled from 94 separate river and lake systems in Ireland and Scotland at varying distances from salmon farms.
The research revealed that sea trout captured closer to salmon farms had significantly higher levels of lice infestation and were found to be of reduced weight. Sea trout are known to remain for extended periods in near-coastal waters where the majority of salmon farms are located. This fish is therefore particularly vulnerable to sea lice impact, having the potential to encounter lice of farm origin throughout much of its marine life.
The effect of the increased lice infestation was most evident in years of less rainfall, when a sea trout of average length (180mm) caught within 10 kilometres of a farm could weigh up to 10g less than fish of similar length caught more than 40 kilometres from a farm. The study covered the entire coasts of West Ireland and Scotland and accounted for variability in temperature and rainfall.
The research article entitled ‘Aquaculture and environmental drivers of salmon lice infestation and body condition in sea trout’ was authored by Dr. Samuel Shephard and Dr. Paddy Gargan of Inland Fisheries Ireland alongside Craig MacIntyre of the Argyll Fisheries Trust. It was published in the international journal Aquaculture Environment Interactions in October.
Studies have shown that the impact of sea lice in farmed areas on sea trout has been substantial with increased mortality, reduced body condition and a changed migratory behavior reported. Heavily liced sea trout return to freshwater prematurely to rid themselves of lice and exhibit very poor marine growth and greatly reduced marine survival. In fact, the most heavily lice infested sea trout die at sea. Rod catch data from 18 Connemara fisheries from 1974 to 2014 show a collapse in rod catch over the 1989/1990 period (see Figure 1). This collapse has been linked to lice infestation from salmon farms while recovery of sea trout rod catches to pre collapse levels has not occurred.
Sea trout offer significant angling value while traditionally the species was abundant on the west coast of Ireland. Angling is worth €836 million to the Irish economy every year and supports upwards of 11,000 jobs, often in rural and peripheral communities. Inland Fisheries Ireland carries out research across fish populations, their habitats and the ecosystem with a view to informing the protection and conservation of this precious resource.
Dr. Paddy Gargan, Senior Research Officer at Inland Fisheries Ireland and one of the report authors, said: “”While there had been some improvement in sea lice control in recent years, lice control on salmon farms was still not sufficient in certain west of Ireland bays during the spring migration period for sea trout to avoid heavy lice infestation and increased marine mortality. More effort is required to ensure lice levels on salmon farms are adequately controlled at this critical period when sea trout leave freshwater and enter the sea.”
Dr. Cathal Gallagher, Head of Research and Development at Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “The finding that salmon farming is responsible for increased sea lice infestation and for significantly reduced body condition in sea trout may have implications for current lice control management strategies. This research will inform coastal zone planning of aquaculture in the future and contribute towards the avoidance of potential impact on sea trout stocks.
Inland Fisheries Ireland is committed to protecting and conserving our fish populations and this research is crucial in managing the sea trout species in Ireland. This country is known as a unique angling destination as a result of its indigenous wild fish species and beautiful scenery. Continued investment in research is necessary to ensure the conservation and protection of our fisheries resource.”
For more information on Inland Fisheries Ireland, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie and to download the full report, visit http://www.int-res.com/articles/aei2016/8/q008p597.pdf

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing Regulations 2017

The Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme regulates salmon and sea trout fishing in Ireland and is administered by Inland Fisheries Ireland. Please note that the regulations and bye-laws are subject to change. Contact your local Inland Fisheries Ireland office for information on individual rivers.

Read Regulations Here

http://www.fisheriesireland.ie/Salmon-Regulations/salmon-regulations.html

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Donal Hickey: New season unlikely to see ease in depletion of salmon stocks

http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/outdoors/donal-hickey/donal-hickey-new-season-unlikely-to-see-ease-in-depletion-of-salmon-stocks-433639.html



WHEN the salmon fishing season opens next month, anglers will be on the lookout for signs of a continuing decline in stocks, which have been falling dramatically, writes Donal Hickey.
Inland Fisheries Institute (IFI) has reported the number of fishing passing through counters, in recent years, has been the lowest since 2002.
At this stage, scientists regard climate change as, perhaps, the biggest threat to the wild Atlantic salmon, voicing serious concerns about the Arctic ice melt.
For many decades, we’ve seen pollution, over-fishing and diseases being cited as major threats to the species, which has declined by more than 60% in 40 years.
Not as much is yet known about the effects of climate change, but research shows a rise in water temperatures results in reduced salmon growth and survival.
A drop in ice cover also has adverse effects on salmon habitat.
The biggest impact is on the likely salmon range moving northwards.
Many stocks in traditional salmon fishing areas along the east coasts of the US and Canada have been decimated, but there are still viable stocks in Norway, Russia, and Iceland, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Higher temperatures can also create better conditions for disease-carrying parasites and also reduce the prey on which salmon feed, forcing salmon to travel further for food, with more deaths at sea resulting.
More rainfall arising from climate change means more water drains into waterways, clogging up rivers and, possibly, causing more pollution and siltation.
Scientists are referring to the diminishing albedo effect.
Albedo is a measure of how well the earth’s surface reflects sunlight.
Snow-covered sea ice has a high albedo and reflects 85% of sunlight.
However, the open water exposed as ice melts is darker and absorbs more, reflecting 7%.
The less sunlight is reflected, the more heat the planet absorbs.
Professor Jennifer Francis, from Rutgers University, New Jersey, was quoted recently, in the CarbonBrief website, saying that losing reflective sea ice can, in turn, speed up surface warming.
“As sea ice retreats, sunshine that would have been reflected back to space by the bright ice is instead absorbed by the ocean, which heats up, melting even more ice,” she said.
US researchers are reporting sea ice cover to be at its lowest since they started measuring in 1978.
We are also feeling the effects of what’s happening a long way from Ireland, with the IFI revealing only 5% of salmon which go to sea are returning to rivers to spawn compared to 15%, 30 years ago.
Little wonder salmon are extinct in many rivers.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Calling for a prohibition on pair-trawling in coastal waters

The Irish Wildlife Trust said

Pair trawling is a fishing practice involving two boats dragging between them a single large net with small meshing. It is an activity which has lately been going on in sheltered inshore bays and estuaries along the west coast - many of which are protected for nature conservation (eg Kenmare Bay). 


Pair trawling targets sprat which goes on to be processed into fish meal. Sprat is a small fish which forms large shoals and is a keystone of the marine ecosystem being food for larger fish such as cod, as well as sea birds. Not only does pair trawling sieve the water of food for other marine life, it also has the potential to catch seals, dolphins or anything else in its path such as migrating salmon or spawning sea bass.

IWT campaign officer Pádraic Fogarty says "catching sprat to be ground up for fish meal is insane. It's a wanton destruction of the whole marine ecosystem, frequency in areas which are supposed to be protected for wildlife."
Large fishmeal plants (both constructed and planned) operate in the expectation that boarfish (a small fish unexploited until recently) would provide the raw materials. However boarfish catches have declined sharply in recent years so there is significant pressure to find replacement feed. 

It is important therefore that this practice is prohibited in order to preserve coastal areas for marine life and other users who depend on the resource. The practice highlights the unsustainable nature of fish farming at sea, which relies on the wasteful use of wild caught fish for feed.

Off The Scales Fishing Magazine said 

Yes, this is happening right now in Cork Harbour. Second day of this in the upper harbour, near Little Island. Apparently the official word is they are "fishing for sprat" but of course bass, mullet and salmon (which are running at the moment) will also inevitably be caught as by-catch. This is disgraceful but deplorably not illegal, as Ireland offers basically ZERO PROTECTION t
o inshore/estuarine nursery areas or waters. This MUST change!

Lobbying must be stepped up, more people need to work together on this cause - or else nothing will change and there will be NOTHING left for future generations. Anglers are one of very few groups who actually care about protecting the seas. It is our responsibility and duty to try our best to save our seas, our fish and our environment.