This is a transnational project that focuses on the coastal seas between Ireland and western Scotland. Its aim is to monitor protected areas of the marine environment and develop our capacity for cross-border cooperation.
Maintaining & managing healthy stocks
Inland Fisheries Ireland is working with the Northern Ireland Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) to investigate marine habitat use by salmon and sea trout as they migrate. This is vital for managing and maintaining healthy stocks. While salmon and sea trout are closely related and share overlapping freshwater and inshore habitats, it is important to understand more about their life-cycle differences at sea.
By tagging Atlantic salmon and sea trout smolts (young fish migrating to sea in Spring) and sea trout finnock (larger sea trout returning to the river in July-September) we will learn about their movements and migration routes along the east coast. Furthermore, we will establish survival rates for sea trout and Atlantic salmon in in-shore marine habitats and, for sea trout, return rates to their river of origin for spawning.
State-of-the-art techniques and oceanography
The COMPASS project team and its partners are developing a state‑of‑the‑art network for oceanographic sampling and establishing data management and modelling infrastructures to track marine mammals and migratory salmonids (salmon & trout). Migrating fish are captured and tagged with acoustic transmitters which are detected using a series of acoustic receivers deployed throughout the river and further out to sea. Using acoustic telemetry, we can then track the movement of tagged fish as they pass by each receiver, getting valuable information on their migration routes and movement patterns. Their long distance migration is of particular interest to us, along the coast and between neighbouring rivers. Tracking work will also investigate the potential mixing of different populations of sea trout at sea and help us identify important feeding areas and places that could potentially be designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s).
COMPASS is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund's Interreg VA programme. It is a collaboration between Inland Fisheries Ireland, the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Marine Institute, Marine Science Scotland and the Scottish Association for Marine Science. The Dundalk and District Brown trout and Salmon Anglers are also an important contributor.