Press Release May 3rd, 2011

Irish Salmon set new record

Inland Fisheries Ireland in partnership with Norwegian scientists conducted a pilot salmon tagging programme where kelts (previously spawned adult salmon returning to sea) from the Blackwater and Suir rivers were fitted with satellite tags in order to investigate their marine movements and feeding location.   In March 2010, 17 salmon were captured in river, moved to a sea water cage for one week, tagged with satellite pop-off tags and released to sea. Detailed data has provided some very valuable information on the life of Irish salmon at sea including very detailed migration routes on a daily basis.  IFI are delighted to report that an Irish Salmon from the R. Blackwater recorded the deepest dive ever recorded for salmon at 900m. We can also report that the temperature data indicate that Irish salmon appear to be exposed to predation from whales, probably sperm whales, when passing the Atlantic rift south of Iceland on their way to West Greenland.

The pilot project in 2010 indicated that Irish adult salmon (kelts) migrate to feeding areas south and south west of Iceland and Greenland 10 to 12 weeks after leaving the river. No fish were found near the Faroes or Norwegian sea as is the case for Irish salmon smolts (juveniles) recorded in the Salsea programme.

This project, in partnership with Dr. Audun Rikardsen from the University of Tromso, is the first to provide information on feeding location and migration route of Irish adult salmon at sea, data important in order to understand how Irish salmon are affected by environmental factors in the ocean (including climate changes). It will also provide data on the survival of previously spawned salmon. It is estimated that previously spawned salmon may make up to 20% of the salmon run in some Irish rivers.

Dr. Paddy Gargan, IFI, Senior Research Officer stated: "The results of a large scale Norwegian salmon tracking project (The SALMOTRACK) appear to show that adult salmon feed along the polar front where warm water from the Atlantic meets cool Artic water and the Irish pilot tagging appears to confirm this. If this is the case the project will add greatly to our understanding of salmon feeding, migration and mortality at sea by mapping these locations. Changes in the location of the polar front resulting from climate change may change the location of marine feeding of salmon which can be assessed using this tagging technology."

Dr. Cathal Gallagher, IFI, Head of Research and Development stated: "This project uses new technology and international partnership to help solve, in a very efficient fashion, some of the mysteries associated with wild salmon while they take undertake their remarkable migratory journey.  It is our hope that some of the information elicited from this project will also support the conservation of this wonderful species for future generations."

Tagging of salmon kelts took place again in March 2011 with ten salmon in total from the Suir, Nore and Barrow rivers tagged and released off Dunmore East. The satellite tags are programmed to pop-off at intervals in July, August & September providing data on migration routes, marine location, depth and temperature profiles utilised during marine migration. 
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Suzanne Campion
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Inland Fisheries Ireland
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Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
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Notes to Editor

Inland Fisheries Ireland is a statutory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and was established under the Fisheries Act on 1st July 2010. Its principal function is the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. IFI will promote, support, facilitate and advise the Minister on, the conservation, protection, management, development and improvement of inland fisheries, including sea angling and develop and advise the Minister on policy and national strategies relating to inland fisheries and sea angling.