Spring Salmon Tracking

Volunteer Alec Clements hones in on a tagged salmon


LOCATION: River Ribble
PERIOD: April 2012 – May 2015
FUNDER(S): Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association, Lancashire Fly Fishing Association, private donations.  Special thanks to the Environment Agency for overseeing the tagging process.
VOLUNTEERS: Countless volunteer hours have been contributed over the 3 years, without which the study would not have been possible.

The population of salmon is in decline regionally.  There may be a number of reasons for this, including a lack of suitable spawning habitat and poor water quality caused by diffuse pollution from agriculture.  Additionally, a lack of tree cover has left watercourses exposed to rising temperatures attributable to climate change, which will be even more detrimental to salmon populations in the future.

The salmon tracking study aimed to determine the preferred spawning locations of spring salmon or ‘springers’ by tracking their migration patterns through the catchment.  This would aid the Trust in prioritising locations for future habitat works.  With better quality spawning habitat available to salmon, it is envisaged that juvenile survival rates would be improved, thus increasing the salmon population within the Ribble Catchment.

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Releasing a tagged salmon back into the River Ribble

Salmon tagged: Over the 3 years, 63 spring salmon were captured and fitted with a transponder.  Their weights ranged from 6.5lbs to 24.5lbs.

Salmon tracked: 35 of the tagged fish were successfully tracked through to spawning using a combination of 10 fixed receiver stations at intervals along the River Ribble, as well as hand-held radio tracking equipment for more accurate locating.

Locations:  Some 16 individual areas have been identified as potential locations for future habitat improvement works, ranging from Ribchester to Stainforth on the main River Ribble, as well as some smaller tributaries between Clitheroe and Settle.

Socio-economic benefits:  The study has gained a lot of public interest, especially from anglers, allowing the Trust to engage people about the threats to our local salmon populations and educate them on how habitat improvements can increase juvenile survival rates.

Using the findings from the study, we hope to be able to attract funding to carry out habitat improvements at these crucial spawning sites, which will help to increase the Ribble’s salmon population, leading to increased angling tourism to the area.  The Trust will continue to promote ‘Catch & Release’.

Attempts were made to retrieve any spent tags so that they could be reused the following year. The video below shows local dive club Reefers & Wreckers scouring the riverbed for tags…

Our Fisheries Scientist, Gareth Jones, has produced a poster and video detailing the findings of the 3-year study.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrT17NQOhqs[/embedyt]