Race to save the salmon
Mon, 17 Oct 2011
The School of BEES was well represented at the recent "Salmon Summit" in La Rochelle, France.
At the summit, scientists confirmed that wild Atlantic salmon are dying at sea in alarming numbers. Southern stocks including some in North America and Europe are threatened with extinction.
The Atlantic salmon is a unique iconic species and an indicator of healthy environments from pristine upland streams to vast oceanic feeding grounds in the North Atlantic.
Utilising new technologies, scientists are starting to unravel the mysteries of salmon in the ocean and providing managers with management options to save this iconic species.
Dr Malcolm Windsor, Secretary of NASCO, said ‘the goal of the SALSEA Programme, a unique collaboration between international scientists, is to increase understanding of how salmon use the ocean, where they go, how they utilise currents and the ocean’s food resources and what factors influence their migration and distribution at sea’.
This Programme used innovative new technologies, including genetic fingerprinting, to map the domain of salmon throughout this vast ocean and identify factors affecting its survival. This has revealed, for instance, that some of the food chain of salmon is moving further north, seemingly in response to a warming ocean.
Because we now know where salmon are at sea, management measures can be implemented to limit impacts on them, such as fisheries for other species.
A clear message to managers in this challenging global environment is to ensure the maximum number of healthy wild salmon go to sea from their rivers.
Keeping salmon populations abundant involves addressing impact factors in freshwater, estuarine and coastal waters. These include degraded freshwater habitat, barriers to migration, over-exploitation and salmon farming.
Dr Windsor continued ‘unless we adopt conservation measures identified during the Salmon Summit there is a real risk that southern stocks will become extinct by 2040’.