Posts Tagged ‘Celtic Sea Trout Project’

River Slaney Salmon and Sea Trout Seminar

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

The Slaney River Trust held a seminar on Saturday 5th March 2011 to discuss various aspects of this great spring salmon and sea trout fishery, with respect to its current health and future management. Notable speakers included Dr.Paul Johnston, a fisheries consultant who has produced a comprehensive report on the conservation and recovery of the River Slaney salmon fishery, and Dr. Willie Roche, a senior fisheries scientist with Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Celtic Sea Trout Project Logo.

Over a very informative day the life cycle of both salmon and sea trout were explained in context with the River Slaney based on current data. What became very clear are the large holes that need to be filled before we come up with a true understanding of what is happening on the ground, and the protracted timeline involved before any pertinent information unveiled is acted upon. That said, a presentation by Dr. Willie Roche on the Celtic Sea Trout Project ,a multi agency partnership between Ireland and Wales, afforded great hope for the future of this much loved but poorly understood species.

A colony of seals off the Raven Point, Wexford harbour mouth, Ireland.

A topic which exposed a key flaw in the multi agency approach to environmental and natural resource management was predator control. Misinformation abounds and wagons are circled relative to the various vested interests,  seals and cormorants receiving particular attention, most of which was negative. Yes 210 seals minimum live on the Raven Point at the mouth of Wexford harbour, I took the ariel photo’s and have counted them. Yes, an individual seal eats between 5 – 10.kgs of fish per day which means that the Raven colony consumes up to two tonne of food per day. Is this having an effect on migratory fish stocks? We do not know, but it is very likely.

Wexford Harbour, Ireland, from the air.

Equally cormorants pose a problem in particular as they predate on smolts (juvenile salmon and sea trout) heading out to sea. In both cases the seals and cormorants are innocent victims to man’s exploitation of the marine environment. Over fishing within the Irish sea where stocks are critically low, certainly upwards of an 80% reduction in white fish such as cod, has forced seals and cormorants to change their feeding habits. Catch returns and observations of salmon from rivers north and south of the Slaney show signs of improvement since the drift nets were bought out in 2006, however the Slaney has stuttered, why? It’s hard not to consider that predation is a factor. Only a full ecosystem approach based on marine conservation will provide the answers and radically change the present status quo, unfortunately under present EU legislation and work practices I cannot see that happening.