Many thanks to The Galway Harbour Master & The Marine Institute for facilitating this camera's location. SmartBay Galway is a national research infrastructure project. It comprises of a network of buoys, seafloor cables and other infrastructure, supporting a range of sensors, information systems, telemetry and other communication technologies. Together they provide the basis for in-situ, real time oceanographic monitoring. The story of Galway and it relationship with the sea is one that goes back farther than the history books. Every great city has a great story and Galway is no exception, the story of the fourteen tribes that led the city to a golden age of prosperity and international acclaim is a legacy from the past that we still cherish today. The Port now hosts a stopover leg for the Volvo Ocean Race. Galway Race Village will be open from June 30 - July 8, 2012. Galway Race Weekend - Friday July 6, 1200 local (1100 UTC) Pro-Am Race - Saturday July 7, 1300 local (1200 UTC) In-Port Race.
Marine Institute Headquarters. Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway,
The vision is to provide a marine based research, test and demonstration platform which will encourage leading edge researchers and industry consortia to collaborate together on important commercial and environmental research.
added: 7th May 2013
posted by: Atlantic Salmon Trust
My friend, Fred Woodward, wrote 'The Scottish Pearl in Peril in its World Context' which was published by Diehard in 1993 (ISBN 0 946230 27 7) and, although currently out of print, is in my view the best...
introduction to the life of this fascinating mollusc. He asked me to write the Foreword to his book, which I quote below because the context of the Freshwater Mussel FWM (Margaritifera Margaritifera) is perhaps more relevant today than it was then, largely because of increasing public awareness of its ecological importance.
Fred Woodward worked at the Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow in a team of distinguished natural historians and biologists. In that capacity he became a member of the European Invertebrates Survey and of the Bern Invertebrates Specialist Group, among other influential roles, including fellowship of the Linnaean Society. I remember Fred talking about the importance of the freshwater mussel and its relationship with juvenile salmonids, especially Atlantic salmon parr. At that time he was drafting the guidelines for the EU's Habitat Directorate, which ultimately led to EU legislation to protect the FWM.
Why are freshwater mussels (FWM) important?
My own interest in Margaritifera Margaritifera stemmed from living on the banks of the River South Esk in Angus, which was famous for the quality of its FWM pearls. In the 1980s it was still legal to collect pearls by opening up the shell of the living mollusc, invariably killing it in the process, and occasionally finding a pearl inside. South Esk FWM pearls were highly sought after, so much so that the late Queen Mother was given a necklace of a selection of the purest irridescent and graded pearls.
Quite often we would find heaps of opened shells beside the river, with dead mussels rotting and stinking in the summer warmth. It was obvious to me, even before I met Fred Woodward, that the plundering of the river's stocks of FWM could not continue if they were not going to become extinct.
Hence, when Fred asked me to write the foreword for his book, this is what I wrote:
"The freshwater mussel is a biological indicator of the health of our rivers. It is also the prized quarry of pearl fishermen, and in Scotland there is a common right to fish for them. There are few such privileges given to the ordinary person, above the rights of the riparian owner, and it is significant, as public access to Scotland's wilderness areas is now a major political issue, that we now know that this practice is no longer sustainable, if the Scottish pearl mussel is to survive.
Traditionally the pearl fisher killed every mussel in the search for the elusive and valuable pearl. It is this, in the context of the longevity and slow growth of Margaritifera Margaritifera, which made it obvious to Scotland's small group of professional pearl fishers that they needed to devise a method which did not involve killing the mussel. This they succeeded in doing by developing tongs which prise open the shell-halves sufficiently to allow inspection and removal of a pearl from the mussel's mantle without harming it. Unfortunately, it was impossible to communicate this method to the much larger number of amateur pearl fishermen, and it therefore became necessary to introduce legislation in 1989 to protect the animal by making it illegal to kill them, or interfere with them in any way.
Fred Woodward is the champion of Margaritifera Margaritifera. His interest in its natural history, its exploitation by man since pre-Roman times, its global context and the politics needed to ensure its survival, are the subject of this book. His main concern is for the mollusc's wellbeing, and yet he manages to introduce an elegaic sympathy for the Scottish group of professional pearl fishers, Bill Abernethy, Peter Goodwin and the McCormack family. It is well worth reading Peter Goodwin's book, 'The River and the Road - Journal of a Freshwater Pearl-Fisher' (Hale 1985 ISBN 0 7090 2341 3) which describes the lives of pearl fishers, an activity which sadly but understandably no longer exists.
The 1992 Rio conference on the global environment highlighted the issue of biodiversity, and it is therefore important that each threatened species has its champions. Fred Woodward's commitment is much more important than championing the cause of a single species however, because his holistic approach has much in common with the Scottish biologist and philosopher, Patrick Geddes, in the way he invites us to think globally and act locally. Margaritifera Margaritifera is more than yet another threatened species or biological indicator; ultimately it is a measure of our commitment to sustaining our environment."
Since 1993 the EU has introduced Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to protect fragile species such as the FWM. Because of the mollusc's relationship with juvenile salmon, which are hosts to the FWM's larval parasite (Glochidia), it is the relationship between the two species which has become the target of EU conservation efforts. In salmon rivers where the freshwater mussel still exists, SAC status is predicated on the wellbeing of both species in that particular ecosystem - the freshwater catchment.
TA on 6/5/2013
added: 25th Mar 2013
posted by: Atlantic Salmon Trust
Tony Andrews explains the thinking behind the new AST strategy:
Following the ground breaking SALSEA project, AST has refreshed its strategy to encompass the whole lives of Atlantic salmon...
and sea trout in all their habitats, at sea and in fresh water.
The purpose of AST’s new “Three Pillars” strategy is to break down the formidable task of understanding and managing diverse Atlantic salmon stocks with life spans of 3-8 years and migrations over many thousands of miles. The strategy addresses survival issues in fresh water, where human intervention is at its most effective, in inshore waters where manmade obstructions to migrations are increasing, and in the deep ocean where our role becomes one of monitoring, rather than control.
The link between the three ‘pillars’ is of course the salmon. The extent of the salmon’s range is best grasped by dealing with the three habitats separately. This makes it easier for example to recognise that what we learn from the ocean impinges directly on what we can do in fresh water, or that improvements to safe passage of smolts through coastal waters have a direct impact on numbers of returning adult fish. The “Three Pillars” concept therefore focuses on the whole life cycle of Atlantic salmon….
PILLAR ONE: The Ocean
Salmon are Ocean fish and members of the pelagic family of sea fishes. They use fresh water to lay their eggs, and the rivers of the north Atlantic basin are where young salmon grow to become big enough to go to sea. The Ocean provides Atlantic salmon with migration routes and feeding areas, where they grow over one, two, three and sometimes four sea winters, before returning to their rivers of birth to start the cycle again. We know from ICES reports that the abundance of Atlantic salmon continues to decline and that the condition of returning adults from parts of the northeast Atlantic Ocean gives rise for concern over their ability to reproduce successfully. The AST’s work is focussed on understanding the causes of the decline in abundance and condition and, wherever possible, finding ways of mitigating this trend.
Major changes are taking place in climate, ocean currents, temperatures and weather systems. Salmon migrations are probably being interrupted by trawlers in search of other species of pelagic fish. It is quite likely that many post-smolts may be inadvertently killed without anyone knowing. At present we do not know if this is happening and, if it is, which stocks are being damaged, nor how serious that damage may be.
AST ACTIONS. We will find out the extent of inadvertent by-catches of post-smolts, and take action to prevent it continuing. We are in discussion with European pelagic fishing fleet representatives and the European Commission about the possibility of establishing ‘safe corridors’ for post-smolts at the time of annual migrations.
Atlantic salmon from unknown stocks are being killed as part of a ‘subsistence harvest’ by commercial netting in the west Greenland fjords. Archives of scales from salmon caught in the Faroes and Greenland coastal waters and current genetic mapping show that they come from eggs laid by European multi-sea-winter salmon.
AST ACTIONS. Continuing genetic mapping and sampling tell us which fish from which regions/rivers are using which part of the Faroes area and Greenland coast. We will be able to negotiate through NASCO a reduction in killing salmon in specific fjords, where our fish are shown to feed. This issue will become acute if either Greenland or the Faroes were to return to a full commercial harvest at the end of the current agreement.
Working with ASF in Canada & USA we will develop new methods of tracking salmon at sea. New technologies, such as static and floating arrays, pop-up tags, radio and pit tags for locating and transmitting data enable real time sampling to take place at sea and in coastal waters. We will disseminate our findings in an international symposium in 2014/15.
Availability of the salmon’s prey species varies throughout the North Atlantic. West of Iceland there is generally a greater abundance of prey than in the NE Atlantic. We need to understand better where salmon are doing well at sea, and where they struggle to survive. That knowledge will enable fishery managers to focus on conserving fragile populations within a river’s stock.
AST ACTIONS. We will persuade governments to include salmon (and sea trout) in their pelagic sea fish surveys. At present salmon are often treated as freshwater fish. If, as a result of continuous monitoring, we have a better understanding of the abundance of prey species in particular areas of the ocean, we will be in a position to predict future return migrations, thus giving the fishery manager ‘on the riverbank’ timely information to set levels of exploitation for future seasons.
PILLAR TWO: The Coastal Zone
Inshore waters are where human influence and potential disruption to migrations of salmon and sea trout are at their greatest. Yet we know little about migration routes, and even less about what happens to salmon and sea trout smolts (and migrating kelts) when they are most vulnerable in the days after they have left fresh water.
Shallow coastal waters are subject to the vagaries of climate change and extreme weather in ways that the deep ocean is not. Concentrations of predators are attracted to estuaries as smolt migrations exit their rivers. Our ignorance of what happens to these little fish, as they swim out of fresh into salt water, is compounded by the effects of new engineering technologies, including the oil industry, as well as ‘renewables’, such as offshore wind farms, tidal barrages, sea bed turbines, wave generators, with their associated undersea transmission cables. Effluents from farms, domestic sewage solvents, and industrial pollution are concentrated along our coasts, especially in estuaries. Sea trout tend to stay close inshore and are therefore exposed more than salmon.
Aquaculture and mixed stocks coastal nets.
In sea lochs, off islands and in coastal waters of the Scottish west coast salmon aquaculture has, increasingly over the last forty years, had a detrimental impact on stocks of wild salmon and sea trout, particularly on post-smolts, but also in fresh water* (see below).
Salmon and sea trout returning to the coasts of Scotland and England continue to be killed indiscriminately by the few remaining mixed stocks fisheries.
•Migration routes of outgoing smolts. Identify coastal ‘choke points’ by using tele-tracking methods developed by our partner in USA and Canada, the Atlantic Salmon Federation. Produce a comprehensive list of threats to survival & prioritise preventive or remedial actions in light of what is achievable.
•Understand levels and causes of smolt mortality Obtain support from partners, public and private sector.
Outcome Identification of routes & choke points will provide baseline data for planners when assessing coastal projects and ensure that sensitive sites are protected, and migratory salmonids given safe passage.
•Impacts of ‘accidental by-catch’ (See Pillar ONE above)
Outcome: Increased post-smolt survival from reductions in by-catch leads to increased numbers of returning adults.
•Impacts of renewables. Research possible impacts of different forms of energy generation and transmission. Assess risks and explore possible remedies. Obtain support and provide data for planners and lobbyists. Solutions strategy must include improvements in EIAs. Monitoring new developments.
Outcome: Ensuring that post-smolt migrations of Atlantic salmon make safe passage to the Ocean.
•Survival of post-smolts. Working with GWCT, ASF and others, obtain data on survival and causes of attrition of post-smolts in estuarial and adjacent coastal zones. Analyse causes and possible solutions. Prioritise and seek support for implementing remedies.
Increased understanding of behaviour of post-smolts and juvenile sea trout in inshore areas
This leads to management actions to provide safe passage to enable post-smolts to migrate to marine feeding areas.
•Predation. Assess proportional risks from predation (human, piscine, avian & mammalian) including potential damage from invasive species (e.g. gilt-head bream & bass) & recommend possible remedies (e.g. where RSPB & others do not pose insuperable vetoes).
Reduction in some predation allows more smolts to reach the sea.
Reduction in human exploitation allows more spawners into rivers & increases natural recruitment.
•Salmon farming. Working with RAFTS and government scientists continue to build data on risks to indigenous salmon & sea trout stocks on a site-by-site basis. Build on existing AST sea lice policy to persuade the industry and government regulators to develop systems of management to protect post-smolts. Continue to encourage development of new salmon farming technologies, especially in different forms of close containment.
A sustainable salmon farming industry will cause minimal damage to wild fish stocks.
In the meantime, while current open-cage practices continue, promote risk analysis (e.g. MIAP) to prioritise the most productive areas, achieve realistic constraints and remedial actions to prevent damage to threatened stocks in designated high risk locations.
•Mixed stocks exploitation. Use existing data (e.g. MS 2012 data from South Esk Tracking Project, decision of Westminster Government to phase out Mixed stocks fisheries, and Scottish MSFWG report of 2010)to support NGO lobby groups to put pressure on government to phase out mixed stocks coastal netting, as is now happening in England. In international fora continue to highlight Scotland's isolated position in the community of north SAtlantic salmon countries (NASCO)
Obtain new data through genetic analysis, tagging, radio tracking and mapping to show effects of mixed stocks coastal netting on salmon and sea trout survivors, and the effect this form of exploitation has on rivers with unknown or fragile populations, especially of early-running salmon.
Use these data to persuade governments, and, if required, EC directorates, to achieve regimes of sustainable exploitation.
The end of indiscriminate killing of returning adult fish in coastal nets (the 5% survivors) will enable fishery managers to understand stocks and to manage them effectively.
Survival of genetically diverse populations will ensure survival of distinct catchment biodiversity.
PILLAR THREE - The Freshwater Environment
AST recognises that catchment-based monitoring, measuring, enhancement, restoration and maintenance work done by fisheries trusts is the key to natural smolt production. The 2008 TWG Restoration Guide (See AST weebsite www.atlaticsalmontrust.org)
There is also an important role for AST in providing an overview and filling the gaps in knowledge. By raising awareness of issues such as flows, the role of small streams, the efficacy of stocking, the welfare of sea trout populations and stock assessment, AST provides support to biologists and managers on riverbanks. With the perspective of the whole lives of salmon and sea trout AST is well placed to support our partners in their work, to initiate new research and communicate results to decision makers and fisheries managers.
AST’s approach to supporting the fresh water sector is to use its well- tested process of
a) Bringing stakeholders together for conferences on an identified key issue (e.g. stocking, flows)
b) Workshops to develop actions identified by the conference
c) Developing priorities for development & funding
d) Designing projects, assembling human and financial resources
e) Leading or participating in project implementation, or acting as advocate where needed
e) Communicating results to stakeholders for action
f) Monitoring, evaluating and communicating outcomes.
Dissemination of data from ocean monitoring should eventually lead to reliable ways of predicting abundance and quality of future migrations to help managers monitor and adjust exploitation in context of conservation levels (CLs).
Outcome. A Stock assessment toolkit, which takes account of the whole life of salmon and sea trout, should enable managers to take decisions in real time so that exploitation levels can be adjusted in advance of or within a season, as opposed to a year later, as happens now.
Seatrout: mobilising stakeholders.
Building on the Cardiff ST conference of 2004, AST’s Bangor workshop of 2010 and the results of the 3 Interreg North Sea, AARC and Celtic projects, and working with the Wild Trout Trust, continue to promote research and good practice leading to better understanding, anadromy, genetics, and the range of habitats, of the lives of sea trout.
•Practical guidelines for fishery managers on maintaining sea trout diversity and enhancing quality and abundance.
•A national sea trout archive (literature, scales, tissue samples) on-line & in partnership with the wild salmonids sector.
•Co-ordinating outcomes of the various sea trout projects in Ireland and the UK leading to a sea trout conference in 2014.
•Build on 2012 Carlingord Small Streams Workshop to improve understanding of the role of small stream in sea trout recruitment.
Freshwater habitat for wild salmon and trout. Following the Flows Conference of 2009, the Pitlochry workshop of 2010 and the Carlingford small streams workshop of 2012, work towards a better understanding of the importance of flows for recruitment and survival in the context of river catchments.
Outcome. Improved habitat management (= more naturally generated smolts) throughout river catchments, employing skills of stakeholders, including volunteers.
Stocking. November 2013 Stocking conference (IBIS and AST) in Glsasgow (See Home Page) will reopen the debate on the controversial issue of using stocking in fishery management. All sides of the debate will be represented with a view to developing a consensus on when stocking can be effective in restoring a fishery.
AST seeks clarity on when the stocking option should be used.This is important as increasing numbers of managers want to understand the risks; in effect we aim to provide a SWOT analysis on stocking.
In the context of experience of fishery managers, and data from geneticists and biologists on both sides of the Atlantic and in the Baltic Sea, we would like an agreed position on when and when not to stock.
This summary was written in February 2013 and will be updated. I believe it has a value in showing how the collective thought processes of the AST team have developed over the last two years.
Atlantic Salmon Trust
5 February 2013
added: 24th Mar 2013
posted by: Atlantic Salmon Trust
Beaver introductions: some personal thoughts.
[i]Tony Andrews, who is chairman of the South Esk Catchment Management Partnership and Chief Executive of the Atlantic Salmon Trust, welcomes the...
reintroduction of the European beaver, while asking that rural managers be permitted to control their populations when they threaten ecosystems or the rural economy. He argues that a balanced approach to management, guided by science, is the key to good decision making.[/i]
The European beaver is a large rodent herbivor whose home is the aquatic environment. It inhabits lakes, or makes beaver ponds in slow moving streams by building dams and flooding upstream areas.
The beaver is an attractive rodent, about the size of a cocker spaniel. They are herbivorous, love water and usually build their lodges beside rivers or lochs, using trees which they have felled as building materials. Sometimes they build dams across slower flowing sections of small and medium size burns. Beaver activities can change ecosystems, in some instances damagingly so. Personally, I like beavers, but only in the right context. For example thinking of context, hedgehogs, loveable as they are, really shouldn’t be present on islands where rare ground-nesting birds breed.
Beavers in mediaeval times were valuable for their skins, as food, and as a source of medicines. Much of Scotland was then natural forest or marshland. Today Scotland has less natural woodland than nearly every other country in Europe. Although the value of the animal is now different, beaver meat is a particularly healthy alternative to the processed offal of contentious origin we buy in our supermarkets. The food option is a real one if beaver populations expand sufficiently to require culling, as happens with red and roe deer.
Terrestrial ecologists argue that reintroducing beavers is good for biodiversity and natural regeneration of river catchments. But our countryside has changed from 400 years ago. Natural riparian woodlands are a rarity. Agriculture depends on well drained land. In our rivers migratory fish are returning from the ocean in massively reduced numbers, and they need every square metre of breeding space available. I acknowledge the ecological value of certain sites to reintroduce this long-extinct species, but I believe we need to have a clear exit plan if beavers are to take a place again as part of our natural fauna.
Beavers are secretive, twilight, animals, which suggests that not many people will see them. Charming though they undoubtedly are, they can be very destructive if populations expand into areas of the countryside where their tree-felling and dam building activities affect the local economy or fragile ecosystems.
Salmon stocks have declined by over 60% in the last forty years, and sea trout numbers are also under pressure. Threats to stocks will become serious if beavers damage spawning and nursery areas. Beaver ‘engineering’ activities in sub-catchments will obstruct access to spawning locations. They will also inhibit regeneration of the freshwater mussel, which depends on salmon and sea trout to re-populate the upper catchment.
Felling riparian trees on the banks of shallow tributaries will open up shaded areas to the heat of the summer sun. As summers get hotter and droughts more severe, water temperatures are likely to become lethal to young salmon, as has already happened in some rivers in France and Southern England. Riparian woodlands provide protection against high water temperatures.
Large numbers of migrating salmon and sea trout smolts will concentrate in the pools above beaver dams making them very vulnerable to predation. A river’s ability to regenerate its salmon and sea trout stocks is entirely dependent on the numbers of smolts that reach the sea. Beaver activities will reduce that output, which in the case of the South Esk could spell disaster for both species, not to mention the threatened freshwater mussel.
‘Accidentally’ introduced beaver families have already colonised the Dean Water, a tributary of the Isla in the Tay catchment. It is a short walk from the upper Dean to the Lemno Burn in the South Esk catchment. As a river already struggling to conserve its salmon and sea trout stocks, it is important that beavers are controlled and not permitted to damage a catchment whose biodiversity is already fragile.
Tony Andrews 23/3/13
added: 27th Feb 2013
posted by: Atlantic Salmon Trust
The South Esk is centre stage in Scottish salmon fishery politics - yet again. The decision of the Scottish Government to revoke the licence for Usan Fisheries to fish in September, increasing interest...
in the river (see paragraph below), the never-ending debate about mixed stocks coastal nets, the issue of keep-ins (nets fishing through the statutory weekend close times), and the prospect of netting interests exploiting Scottish salmon saved by the decision to end mixed stocks netting on the English NE coast, all amount to a level of attention on the South Esk that, at some future moment, will surely lead to changes in the current regime of wild salmon and sea trout management.
As the recipient of EU Life Funding, priority SEPA funding to deal with diffuse agricultural pollution, the SEPA Rottal Burn Restoration Project, Marine Scotland's 'model' fishery management project and spring salmon tracking, as an SAC with the benefits of EU Habitat Directive protection and supported by a very successful catchment management partnership and plan, you would have thought we should all be basking in contentment, but sadly that isn't the case.
"Why on earth not?" you may ask, "with all that support the South Esk must be the most favoured of all Scottish rivers". Well, in a way you would be right. The river is getting a level of attention, study and funding that any of our beleaguered west coast rivers would be glad to accept.
Unfortunately, the South Esk is the crucible of the worst case of mixed stocks coastal netting of wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout anywhere in the North Atlantic region. The only possible exception is the unsustainable Finnmark fishery where Norwegian netsmen are 'stealing' salmon bound for Russian rivers, and inciting a diplomatic row by continuing to exist. Diplomatic stand-offs with Russia usually end in a Russian victory, so I wouldn't be placing any bets on the future of the Finnmark fishery!
Even the English coastal nets exploiting mixed stocks now have a limited lifespan. Salmon saved by the end of coastal netting south of the border are largely of Scottish origin. Fish saved by that uncharacteristic decision of the Westminster Government to practise genuine conservation will find themselves enmeshed, killed and sent to market by a small group of people continuing the outdated practice of mixed stocks coastal netting on Scotland's east coast. There are lots of ways to get to Billingsgate, but via Montrose seems to be the only one for dead salmon.
Unless; Yes, unless the Scottish Government takes action after recognising that killing salmon belonging to the Dee, Don, North Esk, South Esk and Tay (and who knows how many other rivers - 'the rivers in between'?) is causing serious damage to the economies in the river catchments of east Scotland. Rural communities from Strathdon to Blair Atholl, in Grampian and Tayside are losing out on an income which rightfully should be theirs. I doubt if a single fishery owner is making a profit from letting fishing, but local businesses, especially hotels, B&Bs, cafes, restaurants, tourist hubs, clothing and tackle shops should all be receiving a boost to their income from angling tourism. A regime of exploitation that preserves traditional, artisanal netting interests at the expense of the livelihhods of many hundreds of ordinary people, some in remote villages in the catchments of Scotland's east coast salmon rivers, is surely as dead as a Monty Python parrot! I have deliberately avoided mentioning catch and release, which in conservation terms puts the case for closure of mixed stocks coastal nets beyond debate.
We know that the River Dee earns Deeside about £22 million a year from salmon angling. The estimated 320 salmon killed at Usan in May 2011 would have therefore very likely been a real 'hit' on the Deeside economy. If each salmon caught by an angler fishing the Dee is worth about £2,750 to the local economy, and if the exploitation rate of May salmon is about 20%, the 'hit' on the Deeside economy by the Usan nets in May 2011 was about 64 x £2,750 = £176,000. Just that one month! And what about the two Esks? By the same calculation the 'hit' on the North Esk was about 144 x £2,750 = £396,000 and on the South Esk about 136 x £2,750 = £374,000. Add in the Tay and Don and you start to get a picture of the level of economic and social damage done by one very effective killing machine - during one month in the season! And I haven't even mentioned the words 'conservation' or 'management'.
If you factor in the probable damage to fragile populations of salmon and sea trout from all affected river catchments, surely the case for regime change is obvious? Or am I missing something? I think not, although I have my suspicions that some old fashioned ideology or prejudice may be driving the agenda: certainly not evidence-based logic, or a recognition that rural communities in the east of Scotland are profoundly impacted by this outdated regime of uncontrolled exploitation of one of Scotland's most iconic and valuable natural resources.
I am all too aware that these arguments have been put forward by many people - from Lord Hunter in the 1960s, to Lord Nickson's Salmon Task Force in the 1990s, to the Mixed Stocks Fishing Working Group of 2009. The arguments stand repetition: they need dusting down and re-presenting to remind everyone involved in salmon fishery management that Scotland stands alone as the only country continuing this outdated practice, that in conservation terms mixed stocks coastal netting is simply unsustainable, and that the damage to rural communities is very significant. In my view these arguments cannot be aired too often.
It is just possible that good management, common sense and simple justice will prevail. The question is "when?"
added: 16th Jan 2013
posted by: Atlantic Salmon Trust
Close Containment: the plot thickens!
The speed of development of the Close Containment argument is most encouraging.
In August 2011 Professor Ken Whelan, AST Research Director, and I were...
in New Brunswick to discuss with our US & Canadian partner NGO, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and the prospects for close containment farmed salmon grow-out - from ovum to market size adult.
Our reason for visiting ASF was that they had announced their support for a trial project in West Virginia. Our visit revealed three important facts:
A) There is a determination in Canada and USA to develop Close Containment as a realistic alternative to current marine-based, open cage salmon farm units, many of which are 'inappropriately' sited
B) The technology is in place. The product has been independently tested and tasted. CC offers a biological firewall between farmed and wild salmonids, no pollution, fewer chemicals, no disease, no parasites, no waste, close to market minimising stress etc.
c) There is a significant level of interest for 'sustainably grown' salmon from some retailers and many consumers.
We left St Andrews NB having decided that AST will support development of CC salmon aquaculture, however long it may take to come to fruition.
We acknowledge that, for the foreseeable future, currently in many cases 'unsustainable', marine-based systems will continue, but concluded that we now need alternative forms of salmon aquaculture so that decision-makers understand that open cages are not the only option in places where it can be shown that there is a high risk to migratory salmonids.
Based on AST's Sea Lice Policy, published in 2011, we developed the following approach in close cooperation with the other NGOs:
1. Undertake a risk analysis of all existing and potential saltwater farm sites on the Scottish west coast and in the islands. This is what MIAP is doing.
2. Categorise sites on a scale of risk. Ditto
3. Develop alternatives (which is where CC salmon farms come into play) to sites which are shown as too high a risk to wild salmonids to be allowed to continue operating. AST and S&TA are taking this forward.
4. Ensure that protocols and good husbandry standards are met and independently verified and enforced in all remaining marine-based sites. ASFB and RAFTS are leading on wild fish interests' response to the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill.
5. Obtain political and industry support for a range of methods and technologies to ensure that the right sort of salmon farm is located in each risk-assessed site (i.e. minimising damage to wild stocks). We are all working together on this.
It is all very well having a wish list as above, but we needed some action to back it up. Therefore AST undertook the following actions:
1. In December 2011 Andrew Robertson and a well known Norwegian salmon farmer were introduced to each other by AST.
2. In January 2012 AST held a private dinner at the Flyfishers' Club in London for the newly formed company 'FishFrom' and members of the investment community. This was the springboard for all subsequent developments.
3. During the spring, summer, autumn of 2012, and continuing to now, AST provides regular back-up and support to FishFrom. Whilst being careful to ensure that AST does not transgress its charitable status by getting involved in a commercial venture, we have adhered to our 'biological firewall' principle in continuing to give moral support to FishFrom, whose operations are well described on its website.
4. In October 2012 Melfort Campbell and I attended an ASF workshop at St Andrews NB on Close Containment which is written up on the AST website. Conclusions were:
a) The technology and the product are ready and there is a growing number of companies in Europe, China and North America involved in development of the CC industry.
b) There is considerable interest from consumers and retailers
c) The investment community is "not yet comfortable" with the business models currently on offer.
d) It is not a question of "if": it is a question of "when". Meantime cc offers options for siting open cage units in "dangerous sites"
e) In the context of destruction of many different species fish stocks there is a determination, well supported by considerable resources, to rollout CC technologies globally, not only for Atlantic Salmon.
f) Finfish aquaculture is far more economically viable and environmentally sustainable than any of the land-based animal production industries. To become genuinely sustainable salmon aquaculture must clean up its act.
Following the CC workshop Melfort and Tony were in New York in December 2012 for the ASF's AGM where, yet again, we were impressed by the level of commitment and resources available to develop CC technologies and, as an interim, take on the existing salmon farming industry and persuade it to become environmentally sustainable. The issue remains that of commercial viability, and this is now being addressed on a daily basis from West Virginia to Shantou.
Speaking of which, Ken Whelan visited Shantou, China in December 2012 to learn about development of alternatives to the current practice of feeding farmed salmon on little fish (anchovies) from South America. Quite apart from the 2000 years of Chinese experience of sustainable aquaculture, Ken saw for himself the level of sophistication and relatively low cost of Chinese built CC finfish systems, confirming our belief that commercial viability is within reach. By growing algae and sea weeds, combined with polychaetes (ragworms) infused with fish oils (but using only a small proportion of the wild little fish currently used by the industry) genuine, across-the-board sustainability for CC systems may be achievable.
Meanwhile FishFrom has moved with astonishing speed having obtained political support for its CC systems at the highest level of the Scottish Government, identified four possible sites in Scotland and one in Wales, received serious enquiries from 5 countries, completed the business plan and received serious expressions of interest in their technology and know-how from China and the European and City of London investment communities.
No-one is suggesting that CC aquaculture will become the norm overnight. It may take a decade to get open-cage fish farms away from high risk sites. But one thing is for certain, which is that CC systems are the future.
What next? As soon as CC salmon comes onto the market I would like to see every salmon fisherman in the country, every member of his/her family, their friends, acquaintances and people they can persuade in the pub or wherever, to buy only CC salmon.
It is up to us to make the demand. Combine that consumer pressure with the PR that Andrew Robertson and his industry colleagues will aim at politicians, the media, supermarkets and wholesalers, and the sea change we are all looking for may come sooner than we think.
17th January 2013
added: 15th Jan 2013
posted by: Atlantic Salmon Trust
AST at the European Commission
Last week the AST team were in Brussels to meet officials in DG Mare – the department responsible for European seas – and DG Environment – the department...
responsible for environment, habitats and biodiversity in the European Union.
Melfort Campbell, AST Chairman, Professor Ken Whelan, Research Director, Ivor Llewelyn, Director England and Wales and Tony Andrews, Chief Executive, met a number of key officials, all of whom welcomed the Trust’s team, and actively engaged with our concerns.
Addressing the by-catch problem.
The meeting with the Fisheries Conservation and Control Unit, Atlantic and Outermost Regions of the DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, was a follow-up to Ken Whelan’s attendance in December 2012 at the meeting of pelagic commercial fishermen in Amsterdam (Pelagic RAC).
At the Amsterdam meeting the Head of the Unit, Maria Candela-Castillo, had invited AST to meet members of the unit to discuss the issue of inadvertent by-catch of outgoing smolts by pelagic nets. It became clear during our discussion that DG Mare agree to be advocates for research into possible damage to outgoing smolt migrations as proposed by AST. Furthermore, Fuensanta Candela-Castillo expects AST attendance at the next pelagic RAC meeting to take the discussion forward.
For AST this was a satisfactory outcome, and enables us to address an area of concern to biologists and fisheries managers. It also gives substance and momentum to our effort to address the by-catch issue. It is now a priority for AST to meet the Chairman of the Pelagic RAC, who is based in Scotland.
Our second meeting with DG Mare was with Policy officers for Aquaculture Strategy, Common Fisheries Policy and Aquaculture. For AST this was really a briefing session for us to learn about the new EU Aquaculture Group which covers all aspects of aquaculture in both fresh and salt water. Anna Zito, the Aquaculture Policy Officer, explained that this massive new group will be unwieldy and too large to address specifics of salmon farming which, in the context of all forms of aquaculture, forms a small part. However, she explained that small subgroups will be established to deal with matters affecting each sub division of the sector, which should provide a focus for farmed salmon. We were also pleased to hear from Anna Zito that there will be full NGO participation in the main Aquaculture Advisory Group and in its sub groups.
The meeting ended with a short discussion about the importance of the consumer in the development of salmon farming, especially as new technologies such as close containment options, come into production.
Our meeting with DG Environment was a morale raiser for the AST team because of the deep understanding of problems faced by wild salmon and sea trout shown by Micheal O’Brian and his colleagues. The background to our meeting was SALSEA-Merge which had received funds of over £6 million from the EU and others. The discussion centred on biodiversity and conservation, with particular emphasis on the development of ‘safe migratory corridors’ for outgoing smolts. While it became clear that revisiting the designation of SACs in the hope of establishing new ones where there are perceived gaps at present, is unlikely to happen, it was encouraging to hear that there are other ways of protecting targeted species in the pelagic zone. We discussed the Marine Protected Area (MPA) approach and encouraging different methods of netting (e.g. lowering the front edge of trawls by 2 or 3 metres) to take the pressure off shoals of smolts. We felt that this was the start of a much longer discussion to focus on conserving and enhancing salmon and sea trout stocks with their full natural diversity. Like their DG Mare colleagues they agreed to be advocates for our approach to these issues.
After a busy day in Brussels when the AST team met key officials in the Commission we left with the knowledge that our efforts are being followed and supported by officials who have a deep understanding of the issues affecting the survival of wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout. While it is unfortunate that sea trout are not officially part of Habitats directive designated species, we were greatly reassured by the willingness of officials in DG Mare and DG Environment to listen to our concerns, and we were left in no doubt that, as a recognised ‘expert’ NGO on two important migratory indicator species, we can return to Brussels with our concerns when we need to do so.
14th January 2013
added: 13th Jan 2013
posted by: Atlantic Salmon Trust
AST & Aquaculture
For people who missed the flurry of articles on Sunday 13/1/2013, here are the links:
"Anti-aquaculture body ‘aiding fish farm growth’" (The Sunday Times, 13 January)...
"Wild fish groups under investigation by charity watchdog"/'It's a red herring': fish charity boss dismisses charge of conflict of interest" (The Sunday Herald/Rob Edwards, 13 January)
"Fish farm developers brand loch protesters 'a nest of vipers'" (The Sunday Herald, 13 January)
"Information commissioner backtracks on naming salmon farms that kill seals after 'death threat'" (The Sunday Herald, 13 January)
"Sea-change as farm grows fish on land" (Scotland on Sunday, 13 January)
"Lewis job cuts spark salmon clash" (West Highland Free Press, 11 January)
"Row over leaked e-mails" (The Press & Journal, 10 January)
"Island campaign condemns fish-farm company's plans for sites" (Stornoway Gazette, 10 January)
Read more via FishyLeaks: http://salmonfarmingkills.com/fishyleaks
Read the seal killing information including a letter by the Scottish Information Commissioner via: Killing Farms | Global Alliance Against Industrial Acquaculture.
AST's role - persuasion and influence on the basis of sound evidence.
While there is no quick fix to the problems of open-cage salmon farming we think that alternative technologies are the way forward. Ultimately, as Andrew Robertson points out in the Scotland on Sunday article, it will be the retailers and consumers that decide what is acceptable.
AST believes the way forward is to put a big brass ring in the nose of our bull-like (bull in a China shop!) salmon aquaculture industry and lead it gently but firmly to the greener pastures of sustainable salmon farming. We believe there's no point in trying to kill the bull (by eliminating the industry) because that just isn't going to happen.
By supporting the industry, [b]AST seeks to influence its development in the direction of genuine sustainability[b/]. What do we mean by 'sustainability'? We mean no damage to our wild salmon and sea trout, preferably a biological firewall between farmed and wild fish, no use of unsustainable fish-based feeds, no pollution, no escapes, no genetic introgression, no disease outbreaks, no parasites, no collateral damage to the shellfish industry, no untreated sewage collecting on the beds of our cul-de-sac sea lochs.
Let's all work with the industry, buy shares in the closed containment industry, talk about and eat salmon from sustainable sources after asking the right questions.
Let's move towards that goal. It won't happen overnight, or even quickly, but that should not deter us. Remember, the consumer rules....