Press Release

IFI assists in international salmon research project in Greenland

iceberg in ocean

Large iceberg on the sea, Greenland – courtesy of Glen Wightman, IFI

Inland Fisheries Ireland has participated in a tagging project for salmon that tracks their epic sea swim from Greenland to Europe.

Inland Fisheries Ireland(IFI) researcher Glen Wightman represented the agency in an EU-funded programme in the east Greenland settlement of Kuummiut - tagging salmon as they returned to their European rivers of origin.

He collaborated with scientists from the Technical University of Denmark(DTU) to investigate the feeding and return migratory behaviour of young Atlantic salmon as they left the Arctic sea.

A man holding a wild atlantic salmon

Glen Wightman of Inland Fisheries Ireland

Senior Research Officer at IFI Dr. William Roche commented: “This study comprises novel research into a fish species that’s in worrying decline. It’s being conducted because the marine phase of a salmon’s life is where knowledge of its survival is limited. 

“We are making use of the strong homing trait of salmon. The aim is to fill a data gap because detailed information about salmon behaviour and migration routes in the ocean is scarce. 

“It is hoped that the scientific information gleaned will provide further clues into the complex question of poor survival of salmon at sea.  

“We are seeking more data on the return journeys these salmon undertake, and the numbers that actually make it back to the rivers where they are from.”

Landscape view of Kummiut Greenland

Panoramic view of Kuummiut settlement in south eastern Greenland. Base location for project - by Glen Wightman, IFI

Sample salmon were implanted with a tracking device during this pilot phase of the study and monitored rivers in Europe will be checked for returns of these particular fish.

The new programme is focused on capturing live pre-adult salmon in their feeding areas on the east coast of Greenland.

Led by DTU’s Professor Kim Aarestrup, Dr Niels Jepsen, and IFI’s Glen Wightman, it is being carried out under the Smoltrack project, coordinated by the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation.