Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA, has visited the River Bush Salmon Station in Bushmills, as part of the Northern Ireland Centenary celebrations.
The station is marking the Centenary milestone with an invitation for members of the public to come along and experience a behind the scenes peak.
The Minister said: “I was delighted to visit the River Bush Salmon Station to see first-hand the great work being carried out by the knowledgeable and experienced DAERA Inland Fisheries staff. The station ensures the conservation, protection, development and improvement of the salmon and inland fisheries of Northern Ireland.
“During the tour I was able to see how Atlantic salmon battle against all odds to spawn in the River Bush and go on to make the journey from there out to the North Atlantic.”
Since the River Bush Salmon Station was established in 1973, it has provided a significant contribution towards the establishment and continuing development of an evidence base necessary for Atlantic salmon management, not only in Northern Ireland and the British Isles but across the range of Atlantic salmon in the North Atlantic.
DAERA and Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) scientists are uncovering the secret lives of salmon through their research at this station and AFBI’s research on stock/recruitment relationships is at the forefront of international efforts to define salmon spawning targets and test their applicability to salmon management throughout the north-east Atlantic.
Recent salmon research conducted at Bushmills has focused on important contemporary issues such as the impact of climate change on salmon stocks.
Additionally, scientists based at the station have been using exciting new scientific techniques, such as acoustic telemetry, to investigate critical aspects of salmon biology including the survival of smolts in freshwater and the pre-spawning behaviour of adult salmon.
The Minister continued: “My Department continues to contribute towards the sustainable management of salmon and inland fisheries through its evolving and dynamic management approach. Over the last one hundred years Atlantic salmon populations have experienced many and varied impacts ranging from over exploitation, disease, water quality impacts, habitat damage, predation, land use change and other manmade and natural impacts. My Department continues to develop and utilise best practice to ensure impacts are mitigated or prevented where possible and research is targeted towards contemporary threats.
“My Department’s focus for salmon management is concentrated on meeting the requirements of the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 and associated secondary regulation, which includes managing exploitation in line with international obligations. Current issues include prevailing declines in marine survival rates for Atlantic salmon which have been attributed towards climate change. Maximising freshwater production through effective management actions including fishing controls, habitat management, fish passage, targeted research and partnership working continue to provide a focus for DAERA Inland Fisheries management actions.”