The Burrishoole river system (53º55’N 9º34’W) in the west coast of Ireland is home to the Marine Institute’s Newport Facility. This freshwater catchment consists of a total area of 8949 ha drained into two lakes by 45 km of small shallow streams. before eventually discharging into the north east corner of Clew Bay.
The Marine Institute is situated between these two lakes; a freshwater lake (Lough Feeagh) and a tidal, brackish lake (Lough Furnace). These lakes are connected by two channels at which sea entry traps are located (known locally as the Mill-Race and Salmon Leap traps), the traps have monitored the downstream and upstream movements of fish since the 1970s. Census data on Salmon (Salmo salar), Sea trout (Salmo trutta) and eels (Anguilla anguilla) has been crucial for the conservation of these species as well as informing fishery targets.
Data collection is used extensively by ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Seas) to monitor the overall status of Irish stocks on an annual basis and as such Burrishoole is utilised as one of the key index systems for Salmon, Sea trout and eel populations in the North Atlantic.
Another fish trap also exists on one of the many tributaries of the river system called the Srahrevagh river. This trap allows for the monitoring of juvenile salmonid life phases and is capable of capturing all downstream movements.
The Institute also records environmental data; two Automatic water quality monitoring stations (AWQMS) are maintained on both lakes. These systems are moored on buoys to the middle of each lake transmitting data back to base on temperature, conductivity, salinity, turbidity and pH every two minutes via an electronic sensor and telemetry system.
Rearing and Hatchery
The Marine Institute in Newport runs a comprehensive range of freshwater salmonid fish rearing facilities. This includes two isolated hatchery units with egg incubation structures and indoor and outdoor pond rearing facilities with state of the art effluent treatments. The Institute collects and holds broodstock returning to Newport as part of a captive breeding programme started in the 1960s. Ranched fish are then released into the wild each year during the smolt-run.
(All images are accredited to the Marine Institute)