Jan.      Feb.      March      April      May      June      July     Aug.      Sept.       Oct.      Nov.      Dec.
  49          92        275           524        851       1153     1681   3132      4404      5523    
Jan.      Feb.      March      April      May      June      July     Aug.      Sept.       Oct.      Nov.      Dec.
2009
2008
29      114        465           1127      1888     2281     2842    4788      7096      9686 
2007
Jan.      Feb.      March      April      May      June      July     Aug.      Sept.       Oct.      Nov.      Dec. 249    291       465        875      1543     2168    3657   9702     12181    13819
2006
Jan.      Feb.      March      April      May      June      July     Aug.      Sept.       Oct.      Nov.      Dec. 2615   3139    3946      4781     5246    6198               7111     9090      9661
Historical Fish Run
Do Salmon Feed In Freshwater?  By Patrick Mc Erlean The question of whether or not salmon feed in freshwater is one that has fascinated anglers for many years. It's viewed by many as perhaps the greatest of all of the many mysteries associated with this wonderful king of fish. But is it really such a mystery, given all that we know about the migrating salmon? To answer this question properly we need to take a look at the life of the salmon and its journey from egg to adult fish. I guess the first question to ask is, "Did salmon always migrate from rivers to the sea"? We can only speculate on the answer to that, but speculate is exactly what I'm going to do, so please bear with me for a couple of paragraphs! I don't think that it's too big a stretch to presume that there was a time when salmon spent all of their lives in freshwater? I'd guess that the species started out relatively small but that, over time, their average size got to the point where the available food supplies were no longer enough to sustain their growing population. At that point some of the more adventurous salmon would have begun the search for greener pastures, which eventually led to the sea. Although the sea presented a bounty, the like of which they'd never seen before, there was a problem. Freshwater fish need salt secreting gills in order to survive in salt water. For that reason their initial forays into the sea were probably short and sweet, but as they evolved they could spend longer periods there. Eventually they adapted to sea life. However, they couldn't stay there indefinitely as salmon eggs cannot develop in salt water. That is one problem that evolution hasn't found the solution to as yet, so the salmon have to return to freshwater to spawn. Right that is enough of the speculation! Let's look at what we know about the salmon's life journey. I'm not going to get into the detail on when eggs hatch etc because Michael Mc Glade has covered that very eloquently in his article on the River Moyola hatchery (see Hatching A Plan For The Moyola). Suffice to say that salmon go through various stages of growth, from egg, to alevin, to parr, to smolt and finally to adult salmon. Perhaps one of the most wondrous aspects of this development process is that the salmon go through the various stages at varying rates! For example some parr will smolt within the first 2 years, whilst others will not smolt for 3 or 4 years. You can even see this variation in fish that are all from the same batch of eggs. Likewise the smolts spend varying lengths in the sea. They even come back to spawn at various times of the year, e.g. spring, summer and autumn salmon. This behaviour is also observable in kelts, which return to the sea at varying intervals. Presumably the reason for this is to guard against mass extinction? Even if a catastrophic event were to happen, not all of the fish would be impacted, thus ensuring the survival of the species. A salmon leaves the river as a smolt when it has developed the salt secreting gills it needs to survive in the sea. At some point during its life at sea the salmon gets the urge to return to the river of its birth to spawn. This urge triggers a physiological change in the fish, which results in it effectively switching off its feeding mechanism, much like those animals that hibernate for the winter months. Prior to this physiological change, the salmon has fed for a number of years at sea, building up its fat reserves, and it is now prepared to go without food until it returns from spawning. These are pretty much established facts at this stage and are rarely disputed. So if a salmon switches off its feeding mechanism, why then does it sometimes take the baits and artificial lures presented by the angler? And why is it more likely to take in certain conditions? Some people say that salmon take because they are territorial, and this makes them strike out at the lure or bait, which is invading their patch. I honestly don't think that this is a defensible position for a couple of reasons. Firstly, why would a salmon feel threatened by another species, which is much smaller than itself? Surely they'd only be threatened by other salmon. Have you ever seen a bull chasing a bird which has landed in its field? The second reason for debunking the territorial theory is because one of the most common times for a salmon to take is when it is resting between periods when it is running. Surely if a salmon was being territorial it would be much more likely to defend its patch when it gets to its spawning ground? In fact, as we all know, when a salmon gets settled into its spawning lie it's even harder to tempt, if anything! I believe that salmon have two main goals when they enter the river. The first is to spawn. The second is to conserve energy so that they can make it back to the sea to resume feeding. In order to conserve energy, salmon will rarely move about in poorly oxygenated water. Of course there will always be the odd exception but in general that is the case. Water which is low or warm, or both, is often poorly oxygenated. Cold water can be well oxygenated but the fact that it is cold will stiffen up the fish's muscles and therefore it will remain less active in order to conserve energy. After all it takes more energy to move about with cold, stuff muscles. You might be asking, "What has the fish's desire to conserve energy, got to do with whether or not it is a likely taker"? I'd say, quite a bit, because it has been pretty well established, mostly through observation, that salmon are much more likely to take when they are on the move (or at least when they are prepared to move). Maybe so, but isn't the real question, "Why does the salmon take at all, if it switches off its feeding mechanism before leaving the sea"? Over the years there have been many studies carried out, which have shown that, when salmon are caught their stomachs are almost always empty. Some of these studies have also shown that, in almost every case the fish's alimentary canal has shrunk from lack of use. If the fish was feeding in freshwater, that wouldn't be the case. So, case dismissed! Salmon do not feed in freshwater! Well, not quite because the fact still remains that fish do take bait and artificial lures into their mouth. Presumably they sometimes do they same with some of the other food sources the river has to offer. It is my belief that the physical evidence is pretty clear; salmon do not feed in freshwater and the fact that they sometimes take an anglers offering, can be explained as a momentary lapse where they succumb to a deep seated urge to feed, much like that of an ex-smoker getting the urge to have a cigarette (even though they've been off them for a long time). I also believe that in most cases they snap out of this reflex action before they go ahead and swallow their quarry. Of course, there are the odd exceptions where the fish will swallow the bait (or food), but in my experience these instances are few and far between. The only time a salmon truly feeds in freshwater is after a kelt has gone through the reverse physiological changes (i.e. turning on its feeding mechanism again), in preparation for its return to the sea. There are lots of people who have observed kelts feeding on hatches of flies and I contend that this only happens after they've gone through the change and are on their way back to the sea. My scribbles here may not have solved the mystery of whether or not salmon feed in freshwater, but hopefully they've given you a new perspective on the question. There are still many remaining mysteries pertaining to the atlantic salmon, which we may never solve. For one, no one really knows how these fantastic fish find their way back to river of their birth (and mostly to the exact pool). Many have speculated that it's some sort of chemical trail but like my ramblings above on the evolution of the salmon, this is purely speculation.shwater?   By Patrick Mc Erlean The question of whether or not salmon feed in freshwater is one that has fascinated anglers for many years. It's viewed by many as perhaps the greatest of all of the many mysteries associated with this wonderful king of fish. But is it really such a mystery, given all that we know about the migrating salmon? To answer this question properly we need to take a look at the life of the salmon and its journey from egg to adult fish. I guess the first question to ask is, "Did salmon always migrate from rivers to the sea"? We can only speculate on the answer to that, but speculate is exactly what I'm going to do, so please bear with me for a couple of paragraphs! I don't think that it's too big a stretch to presume that there was a time when salmon spent all of their lives in freshwater? I'd guess that the species started out relatively small but that, over time, their average size got to the point where the available food supplies were no longer enough to sustain their growing population. At that point some of the more adventurous salmon would have begun the search for greener pastures, which eventually led to the sea.   Although the sea presented a bounty, the like of which they'd never seen before, there was a problem. Freshwater fish need salt secreting gills in order to survive in salt water. For that reason their initial forays into the sea were probably short and sweet, but as they evolved they could spend longer periods there. Eventually they adapted to sea life. However, they couldn't stay there indefinitely as salmon eggs cannot develop in salt water. That is one problem that evolution hasn't found the solution to as yet, so the salmon have to return to freshwater to spawn. Right that is enough of the speculation! Let's look at what we know about the salmon's life journey. I'm not going to get into the detail on when eggs hatch etc because Michael Mc Glade has covered that very eloquently in his article on the River Moyola hatchery (see Hatching A Plan For The Moyola). Suffice to say that salmon go through various stages of growth, from egg, to alevin, to parr, to smolt and finally to adult salmon. Perhaps one of the most wondrous aspects of this development process is that the salmon go through the various stages at varying rates! For example some parr will smolt within the first 2 years, whilst others will not smolt for 3 or 4 years. You can even see this variation in fish that are all from the same batch of eggs. Likewise the smolts spend varying lengths in the sea. They even come back to spawn at various times of the year, e.g. spring, summer and autumn salmon. This behaviour is also observable in kelts, which return to the sea at varying intervals. Presumably the reason for this is to guard against mass extinction? Even if a catastrophic event were to happen, not all of the fish would be impacted, thus ensuring the survival of the species. A salmon leaves the river as a smolt when it has developed the salt secreting gills it needs to survive in the sea. At some point during its life at sea the salmon gets the urge to return to the river of its birth to spawn. This urge triggers a physiological change in the fish, which results in it effectively switching off its feeding mechanism, much like those animals that hibernate for the winter months. Prior to this physiological change, the salmon has fed for a number of years at sea, building up its fat reserves, and it is now prepared to go without food until it returns from spawning. These are pretty much established facts at this stage and are rarely disputed. So if a salmon switches off its feeding mechanism, why then does it sometimes take the baits and artificial lures presented by the angler? And why is it more likely to take in certain conditions? Some people say that salmon take because they are territorial, and this makes them strike out at the lure or bait, which is invading their patch. I honestly don't think that this is a defensible position for a couple of reasons. Firstly, why would a salmon feel threatened by another species, which is much smaller than itself? Surely they'd only be threatened by other salmon. Have you ever seen a bull chasing a bird which has landed in its field? The second reason for debunking the territorial theory is because one of the most common times for a salmon to take is when it is resting between periods when it is running. Surely if a salmon was being territorial it would be much more likely to defend its patch when it gets to its spawning ground? In fact, as we all know, when a salmon gets settled into its spawning lie it's even harder to tempt, if anything! I believe that salmon have two main goals when they enter the river. The first is to spawn. The second is to conserve energy so that they can make it back to the sea to resume feeding. In order to conserve energy, salmon will rarely move about in poorly oxygenated water. Of course there will always be the odd exception but in general that is the case. Water which is low or warm, or both, is often poorly oxygenated. Cold water can be well oxygenated but the fact that it is cold will stiffen up the fish's muscles and therefore it will remain less active in order to conserve energy. After all it takes more energy to move about with cold, stuff muscles. You might be asking, "What has the fish's desire to conserve energy, got to do with whether or not it is a likely taker"? I'd say, quite a bit, because it has been pretty well established, mostly through observation, that salmon are much more likely to take when they are on the move (or at least when they are prepared to move). Maybe so, but isn't the real question, "Why does the salmon take at all, if it switches off its feeding mechanism before leaving the sea"? Over the years there have been many studies carried out, which have shown that, when salmon are caught their stomachs are almost always empty. Some of these studies have also shown that, in almost every case the fish's alimentary canal has shrunk from lack of use. If the fish was feeding in freshwater, that wouldn't be the case. So, case dismissed! Salmon do not feed in freshwater! Well, not quite because the fact still remains that fish do take bait and artificial lures into their mouth. Presumably they sometimes do they same with some of the other food sources the river has to offer. It is my belief that the physical evidence is pretty clear; salmon do not feed in freshwater and the fact that they sometimes take an anglers offering, can be explained as a momentary lapse where they succumb to a deep seated urge to feed, much like that of an ex-smoker getting the urge to have a cigarette (even though they've been off them for a long time). I also believe that in most cases they snap out of this reflex action before they go ahead and swallow their quarry. Of course, there are the odd exceptions where the fish will swallow the bait (or food), but in my experience these instances are few and far between. The only time a salmon truly feeds in freshwater is after a kelt has gone through the reverse physiological changes (i.e. turning on its feeding mechanism again), in preparation for its return to the sea. There are lots of people who have observed kelts feeding on hatches of flies and I contend that this only happens after they've gone through the change and are on their way back to the sea. My scribbles here may not have solved the mystery of whether or not salmon feed in freshwater, but hopefully they've given you a new perspective on the question. There are still many remaining mysteries pertaining to the atlantic salmon, which we may never solve. For one, no one really knows how these fantastic fish find their way back to river of their birth (and mostly to the exact pool). Many have speculated that it's some sort of chemical trail but like my ramblings above on the evolution of the salmon, this is purely speculation.
Scales Reveal Salmon Feeding Grounds
Scientists have discovered how to find out where Atlantic salmon spend their time at sea by analysing the chemistry of their scales, in a breakthrough that may help preserve dwindling populations. It turns out that fish from different parts of the UK migrate to very different stretches of ocean. Salmon spend much of their adult lives at sea, before returning to breed in the rivers where they were spawned. But until now it's been unclear precisely where they go at sea. It's an important question, because their numbers have been falling since the early 1970s, mostly because of losses at sea. In that decade, around 70 per cent of each generation died at sea, whereas in 2005 the mortality rate had risen to 90 per cent. This suggests it might be a good idea to protect them at sea. But where, exactly?     'We can now see where fish from individual rivers go to feed in the Atlantic' -  Dr Kirsteen MacKenzie Now researchers have found the answer, by analysing the ratios between different forms of carbon, known as isotopes, in salmon scales. These form a distinctive chemical signature that can trace each salmon to the feeding grounds of its youth. The team of scientists from the University of Southampton, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton looked at collections of preserved salmon scales taken from two salmon populations - one returning to rivers on the UK's north-east coast, the other coming back to the River Frome in Dorset. They compared changes in the scales' isotopic signatures over time with satellite records of sea-surface temperatures from across the north Atlantic. Areas where changes in the records match up show where each population is feeding. 'As every single salmon contains the natural chemical tag, we can now see where fish from individual rivers go to feed in the Atlantic,' says Dr Kirsteen MacKenzie of the University of Southampton, lead author of the study, which appears in Scientific Reports. 'Interestingly, we found that salmon born in two areas of the British Isles swim to feeding grounds that are far apart, and experience very different conditions at sea.' Salmon returning to rivers on the UK's north-east coast face far more variable conditions at sea, suggesting they feed in the Norwegian sea - roughly where scientists thought. But salmon returning to the River Frome in Dorset turn out to feed further to the west, around the Faroe Islands and Iceland - this was much more surprising, according to co-author Dr Clive Trueman, also from the University of Southampton. 'The prevailing view was that the more northerly UK populations feed around the Norwegian Sea, while the more southerly ones feed off western Greenland,' he explains. 'But our analysis suggests salmon from the south of the UK aren't going as far west as that. Some fish may make it to Greenland, but if so they don't seem to be making it back to the UK.' The proportion of different isotopes in an animal's body is determined by the different isotopes present in the food it ate as it grew, and this depends in turn on where it was at the time. Each stretch of ocean carbon imparts a distinct isotopic signature to the animals feeding there, largely because its waters are a different temperature and host different plankton communities. Scales are relatively long-lasting and preserve a record of the fish's carbon intake over its last few months of feeding. The north-eastern salmon face a more variable environment in the Norwegian Sea than the Frome population experiences near Iceland, suggesting their numbers may be more dependent on changing environmental conditions. 'This research will help protect small, vulnerable populations of fish,' Trueman says. 'If we know where they're going, we can look out for any changes in fishing practice that might be affecting their numbers.' This is the first time scientists have had a firm idea where salmon go to feed at sea. Previous studies have tried to find out by tagging individual fish and seeing where they are caught. But so many salmon die on the way that you have to tag an unfeasibly large number of them to get a sensible result. And you're only likely to catch fish where there's fishing going on, so this method is biased towards parts of the ocean that are actively exploited by the fishing industry or targeted by research vessels. Trueman says that similar techniques could be used to identify the feeding grounds of other migratory marine animals, including turtles, tuna and cod, helping conservationists manage their numbers and identify the best sites for protected areas in which fishing is restricted.
Wild salmon dying at sea  The summit was convened by the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. The findings of the EU-funded Salsea programme, which Dr Whelan led, were discussed at the summit, and these show a “very significant impact of climate change”, he said. “We’re seeing a shift in terms of plankton in particular, due to changing ocean currents, which are in turn very dependent on wind,” he said. “Surviving the first winter at sea seems to be the key challenge for these stocks, and the salmon in the northern states like Norway and Russia, seems to be less affected,” he added. There have been reports of healthy returns of wild salmon this season to Irish rivers, and the fish is now spawning in Dublin’s Dodder river and has returned to the Tolka. Dr Whelan said this was very welcome, and showed the positive impact of the EU water directive and related anti-pollution measures.
                                           Galway Bay salmon farm halted Public enquiry could result from allegations of flawed and suppressed information regarding controversial proposal to construct a massive salmon farm in Galway Bay. The allegations have already led the EU Commission to re-open an investigation on the farm and demand explanations from Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney. EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik re-opened Pilot Investigation 764/09/ENV1 following claims of “fundamental errors” in the analysis of key papers by the Marine Institute in Oranmore regarding the sea lice threat to wild salmon posed by intensive salmon farming; allegations that information from Inland Fisheries Ireland on the scale of damage caused to wild fish from lice was withheld by the Department of Agriculture; and perceived refusals by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to answer questions in the Dáil on the fish farm. The proposal by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara to locate the 1,126 acre, 15,000 tonne, open caged salmon fish farm off Inis Óirr, is now halted pending the EU investigation and Minister Coveney now has until January 15 to explain the situation. The Galway Bay Protection Group, a body made up of doctors and medics concerned by the health implications of a fish farm, has welcomed the EU Commission’s decision but believe a public enquiry is also needed to examine the entire issue. It is seeking to raise funds for the holding of such an enquiry. ‘Fundamental errors’ The main reason Commissioner Potocnik re-opened the investigation is the emergence of new scientific analysis which called into question data that had been presented to the Department of Agriculture. A team of four international experts from the University of Toronto, the University of Prince Edward, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, and the Scottish Ocean’s Institute at St Andrews reanalysed the data contained in three Marine Institute reports regarding the impact of sea lice on wild salmon, for the August edition of The Journal Of Fish Diseases. The team found “fundamental methodological errors” in the all three Marine Institute papers and concluded the percentage of wild salmon killed by sea lice is not “one per cent” as claimed by the Marine Institute, but is actually “more than 30 times higher” - in effect one-third of the overall number of adult salmon. Two of the Marine institute papers form the basis of the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed fish farm. On three occasions this matter was raised in Dáil Éireann by Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish, at the request of the Galway Bay Protection Group, Minister Coveney made no reply, except on once to say the Marine Institute protocols are “strictly evidence based” and “totally independent of the industry”. In December 2012, Dep Grealish had already pointed to research that showed 39 per cent of wild salmon mortalities are attributable to sea lice. The new data and the Minister’s lack of response led the Galway Bay Protection Group and Friends of the Irish Environment to write to Commissioner Potocnik, leading to the new investigation. The commission has written to Minister Coveney, giving him until January 15 to “comment on the significant difference between the conclusions of the two studies”. ‘Serious reservations’ Independent MEP Marian Harkin, who has supported the Galway Bay Protection Association and Friends of the Irish Environment on the issue, has welcomed this development. “This decision is a significant indication of how the democratic process can be used by NGOs to challenge possible infringements of process,” she said, “and to work with politicians to ensure there is no preclusion of valid evidence which may influence the decision by the European Commission.” MEP Harkin said allegations that important evidence by a State body appears to have been omitted and, as a consequence, the objectives of other State bodies were achieved, “is most worrying”. The Dáil Public Accounts Committee is also being called on the investigate the financial outlay, and process employed, by Bord Iascaigh Mhara to promote the construction of the salmon farm by Galway county councillor Thomas Welby. Cllr Welby had previously written to Minister Coveney in relation to deficiencies in the EIS regarding Amoebic Gill Disease, a disease which has to be treated by bathing the diseased fish in fresh water. The EIS made no reference to the disease, or the treatment, a process that would require huge amounts of fresh water. Concerns had also been raised about the proposed fish farm earlier in the year. Galway county councillors wrote to Minister Coveney in March outlining “serious reservations” that the farm will “endanger wild salmon stocks and public health”. In the Dáil that same month, Fine Gael Galway West TD Seán Kyne also called attention to discrepancies between stated figures. “BIM states that 90 per cent of salmon smolts from river catchment travel along the coastline up to the north Atlantic, yet local angling groups and the Inland Fisheries Ireland state that 90 per cent of the same salmon smolts swim deep into Galway Bay,” he said. “Which piece of advice is the correct one?”    Home