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DEFA publishes report on Manx trout and salmon 22 January 2013

Minister for the Department of Environment Food and Agriculture, Phil Gawne MHK has welcomed the 2012 freshwater fisheries report which shows how well wild Manx salmon and trout are doing in many of the Island’s rivers and streams.

Surveys of ten rivers conducted each summer by the Inland Fisheries Section of DEFA have revealed encouraging news about the Island’s brown trout and salmon populations. Survey data up to and including 2012 have been collated and compared to the UK Environment Agency’s National Fisheries Classification Scheme, which grades brown trout and juvenile salmon populations according to a system based on surveys at over 900 sites in England and Wales.

Minister Gawne said 'this latest report illustrates the value of our rivers and streams for biodiversity and recreation and reflects the importance of the Isle of Man’s valuable natural heritage. I'd like to thank those landowners, farmers, anglers, contractors and other individuals whose cooperation and assistance help Fisheries staff to protect and conserve these important natural resources'.

The report reveals that most survey sites contain at least average densities of trout with some sites frequently scoring above average. Many of the sites also contain juvenile salmon with some sites on the Rivers Glass, Dhoo, Laxey and Neb scoring above or well-above average.

Taking account of inevitable natural fluctuations, data so far indicate that many of the Island’s trout and salmon populations have remained reasonably stable since monitoring began in 2003, and in some areas have appeared to improve. One example of this is a site near the Ballakerka plantation on the upper Sulby River, where the appearance and subsequent increase in young salmon in recent years reflect other indications that water quality in Sulby Glen continues to improve.

As well as enabling assessment of potential impacts on salmon and trout from such things as pollution, climate change and management initiatives, results from the monitoring programme are used to determine the most efficient and productive use of DEFA’s salmon hatchery at Laxey. Fish are reared using best practice guidelines with stocking targeted to areas of good juvenile habitat where natural recruitment of salmon is limited, for instance by flow regulation or large weirs. Young salmon are bred from adult fish collected late autumn from the river to be stocked and are released at a few weeks of age the following spring. This encourages natural behaviour, maximising their chances of surviving to go out to sea and return to boost the salmon run in the river.

Supportive breeding is currently being used to encourage salmon to re-colonise the Santon Burn above Santon weir fish pass. Sea trout began to use the pass soon after its installation in 2009, since which juvenile trout numbers have increased substantially in the upper reaches of the river. However, wild salmon have so far appeared reluctant to take the opportunity to access the excellent habitat available above, possibly due to their tendency to return to the particular area of river in which they hatched. Hatchery reared salmon introduced to the river's upper reaches appear to be doing well and releases are planned to continue until surveys indicate that natural recruitment is taking place.

This stocking technique is also being used to boost the Sulby River’s salmon run with preliminary surveys showing promising indications of improved juvenile populations.

The Report on the Salmonid Monitoring Programme 2003 - 2012, which also summarises information from anglers’ catch returns, can be downloaded at www.gov.im/daff/fish/inland or requested from the Fisheries Directorate, tel. 685857, email fisheries@gov.im

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