Date: 10 November 2005
The challenges and opportunities faced by fisheries managers in conserving habitats for wild salmon will be addressed by leading expert Prof. John Armstrong of Scotland's Fisheries Research Services Freshwater Laboratory, Pitlochry in the Minerva Suite of the Royal Dublin Society at Ballsbridge, Dublin next Tuesday, 15th November, starting at 6.30 pm. The event is being organised by the RDS as part of its prestigious "Buckland Lecture Series" in collaboration with the Marine Institute to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Newport research laboratory, which specialises in salmonid studies.
John Armstrong's research has focused on the behaviour and ecology of Atlantic salmon and brown trout as a basis for developing sound management models including the impacts of predators, hydroelectric installations and habitat modifications on salmon populations. An illustrated summary of this work, concentrating particularly on experimental studies over a range of situations from onshore tanks, to trapped and opens river systems, will form the basis of his lecture. The results of his work are highly relevant to Irish fisheries and will provide valuable insights into how problems of declining stocks might be tackled in Ireland.
"Many anglers and netsmen have first hand experience of substantial declines in salmon stocks during their own fishing lifetimes", says Prof. Armstrong. "The mood is no longer complacent expectation of a bountiful harvest, but one of concern. In the last century, the virtual extinction of salmon has been seen in some parts of its natural range and we are in no doubt about the need to act fast and in concert to protect other stocks. On a brighter note, with the cleaning up of some rivers in recent decades we have seen how stocks can recover and prosper given effective management."
The Buckland Lectures are named after Frank Buckland, one of the best-known Victorian writers on natural history subjects. Although strongly opposed to Darwin's theory of evolution, he was a forward-looking pioneer of modern fishery research. He became a most influential Inspector of Salmon Fisheries in England and also undertook a number of groundbreaking enquiries into the state of English marine fisheries. On his death he bequeathed a sum of money in trust to fund the annual appointment of a Professor of Fish Culture who should deliver three public lectures and provide the text for publication. This year (2005) that honour falls to John Armstrong.
For further details please contact: Dr. Ciaran Byrne at 01 – 2407217 or at ciaran.byrne @ rds.ie.
Dr. John Joyce – Marine Institute – 087 2250871
NOTES TO EDITOR
JOHN ARMSTRONG'S CVJohn started fisheries research examining habitat use and feeding of pike in the lochs of Aberdeenshire Deeside. The programme ultimately developed miniature heart rate detectors to relay back second-by-second information on feeding habits of the fish to shore-based receiving stations. He then studied deep-sea fish with research groups at the University of Aberdeen and Scripps Institute of Oceanographic Science in California using robot probes deployed to depths of up to 6100m, where they photographed and tracked movements of fish. John also joined an expedition to the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean to test fish tracking methods for application in establishing conservation strategies for coelacanths. John moved from deep-sea research back to studying Scottish upland systems when he started work at the Fisheries Research Services Freshwater Laboratory in 1992. Much of his research at the laboratory has focused on establishing a good understanding of the behaviour and ecology of Atlantic salmon and brown trout as a basis for developing sound management models. Particular interests have included impacts of predators, hydroelectric installations and habitat modifications on salmon populations. John has collaborated extensively with Scottish and international fisheries managers and university scientists to bring together interested people with a wide range of skills to tackle the problems of conserving and managing salmon stocks.
FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NEWPORT FACILITY
The Salmon Research Trust of Ireland was established near Newport, Co. Mayo in June 1955 as a result of an initiative taken by Sir Hugh Beaver, the MD of Arthur Guinness & Co. Ltd. and Dr Arthur Went, scientific adviser to the Minister for Fisheries. It was located on the Burrishoole river system, which was originally owned by Major C W Roberts but purchased by Guinness in 1965. In 1980 the Roberts family gifted the fishery, the fishing rights, property and other tangible assets to the Trust. Throughout the 1980's Guinness gradually phased out its involvement and the facilities were donated to the state. On the 1st January 1990 the Salmon Research Agency took charge of the facilities on behalf of the Minister for the Marine. In July 1999, the Salmon Research Agency was transferred to the Marine Institute. Since then the facilities have been upgraded and developed to cope with the growing demands from the scientific community and from industry. Since the formation of the Salmon Research Trust some 50 years ago, extensive research has been undertaken and progressed in a wide range of aspects of the Burrishoole system: stock dynamics of salmon, sea trout and eels; salmonid genetics; environmental and hydrological studies; catchment management studies as well as extensive research into the rearing of salmonids for stock enhancement, ranching and fish farming. A series of high profile EU funded national and international collaborative projects have also been supported in the facilities. The results of this research have been reported in a series of 50 detailed Annual Reports and in over 200 scientific publications. The Marine Institute has been celebrating the 50th Anniversary of this unique facility through a number of public seminars on fisheries and environmental issues. The last of these "Burrishoole – Past, Present and Future", takes place in the new Newport Hotel, Newport on Thursday 17th November at 7.30 pm.