An EU-funded project is investigating ways to improve wild freshwater fish stocks

An EU-funded project is investigating ways to improve wild freshwater fish stocks

0 20 16 February 2018


In the framework of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, the European Commission has funded the €3.8 million ‘IMPRESS’ project (Improved Production Strategies for Endangered Freshwater Species), with the main objective of developing better fish-rearing and restocking methods which could help reverse the decline in wild freshwater fish population.

In fact, the Atlantic salmon, the European eel and sturgeon are all under threat from human activity in European seas, rivers and lakes, and their population has significantly declined for the past 30 years, despite efforts to restock fish in the wild.

Because of these species’ major impact on local economy (rural employment and leisure tourism mainly), the preservation of their habitat and population is critical for Europe. Finn-Arne Weltzien, the project coordinator from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, stated that: “Most stock fish today are reared for fish farms. This means fish are selected to grow fast and grow big. In the wild, a different set of ‘life skills’ is needed: avoiding predators, finding mates, swimming long distances. With new genetic and fish-rearing techniques, we want to produce fish that can survive better in the wild and reverse population decline.” In order to achieve this goal, the project is training a new generation of PhD students across Europe with skills and methods to improve and search for new stocking strategies for these endangered species. Such methods range from molecular biology to fisheries management. The project partners are also providing advices to hydropower operators to adapt dams in fish-friendly ways during migration seasons.

The project, started in 2015, will finish in December 2018 and gathers five EU member states plus Norway and Israel. A conference will take place on the 17-19 Junein Norway with the aim of discussing and exploring both the pros and cons of current restocking strategies. Additionally, it will enable the researchers to present and discuss their findings.

More information on the project is available here and here.
You can visit the project’s official website here: 
You can also access more information on the conference here:


Opportunities for local enterprise & rural development in Irish aquaculture

There is great potential for Ireland to develop its aquaculture in the coming decade, with a rich and varied marine landscape, and a long coastline. However, the sector is small in scale, relative to Scotland or Norway, and has been in decline somewhat over the last decade, as it has been across Europe.

Today’s report from the National Economic and Social Council, Sustainable Development in Irish Aquaculture (NESC report No. 143), argues that future Irish aquaculture development can be achieved that balances economic, environmental and social goals. The report, which includes a qualitative study on sustainable development in Irish aquaculture, was commissioned by NESC as part of its sustainability remit. The research, by Dr Patrick Bresnihan, examines how the dynamics of environmental sustainability have been experienced and managed within Irish aquaculture.

Three key themes came out of the research:

1. Diverse economies for development are required

There is potential for aquaculture to provide safe, nutritious food and other materials, to sustain livelihoods in coastal areas, and to ensure and even enhance the quality of the marine environment.  Opportunities for the future can be grasped in relation to the quality of Ireland’s marine environment, both in terms of its protection and preservation, but also as a unique selling point for the industry.

2. Environmental risk requires building resilience

The business of aquaculture depends in a fundamental way on an ability to manage environmental risks. In aquaculture these can have a particularly detrimental impact on production and the viability of a business. Local actors can play a critical role in identifying and avoiding risk through early identification. For these producers, sustainable livelihoods, quality of life and environmental integrity are inseparable.

3. Conflict resolution, engagement and decision-making can be improved

Aquaculture is a highly contested sector and conflicts have arisen over its development and the way decisions are made about the allocation and use of the foreshore. There is a need for a focused approach to finding, testing and adapting suitable forms of public participation for natural resources management. Different, often competing, perspectives and values need to be articulated and negotiated. There is still a gap in our understanding of the kind of structures, processes and agencies that can best progress constructive engagement, and this is evident across many different areas of policy.

Dr Rory O’Donnell, Director of NESC, stated that ‘while not easy, it is possible to deliver local job creation and enterprise, development and growth, strengthening of exports—while at the same time deepening environmental protection and sustainable development.’

He added that ‘this research points to the importance of community resilience, rural development and the use of local knowledge and skills for a sustainable economy- a model of development which integrates and builds on local enterprise has potential.’

The overarching question for further consideration is: what needs to be put in place, locally and nationally so that diverse forms of aquaculture can prosper in Ireland’s coastal areas? It suggests that we can learn from the experience of rural co-operatives and other collaborative models, such as the Wild Atlantic Way Seafood Trail.

Many of the themes and issues raised are not unique to aquaculture, but touch on wider concerns of sustained regional development, environmental sustainability and environmental policy integration. NESC will continue to work on issues of sustainable environmental, economic and social development.

The report was circulated to Government departments and noted by the Cabinet at its meeting on the 21st of May. You can read the full report here

For further information please contact Dr Rory O’Donnell, / +353-87-6595619 / +353-1-8146332.

IFI launches scientific fisheries for Eel

IFI launches a network of scientific fisheries for Eel around Ireland and invites former Eel fishermen to get involved.
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has today (23.03.16) announced that it is establishing a network of scientific fisheries for eel around Ireland. The scientific fisheries will be distributed in key catchments around Ireland (Barrow, Boyne, Corrib, Fane, Moy, Munster Blackwater, Waterford Harbour and the Shannon Estuary).
The purpose of the scientific fisheries is to increase the data and knowledge of eel in Ireland ahead of the 2018 EU review of our national eel management plan. The programme follows an announcement by Minister with responsibility for natural resources, Joe McHugh TD, last November of a new collaborative research initiative involving IFI scientists and former eel fishermen.
Announcing the programme, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland, Dr Ciaran Byrne, said: “IFI is delighted to be working with the eel fishermen in undertaking research on this enigmatic creature. IFI has experience in working with stakeholders in both the commercial and recreational fishing in relation to salmon, sea trout, bass and invasive species.”
IFI’s Head of Research, Dr Cathal Gallagher, said: “The programme presents a great opportunity for eel fishermen to work with IFI to get an understanding of the process involved in gathering data to undertake stock assessments. This research will investigate changes to the eel stock as a result of the poor recruitment of eel to Europe. Data from the lake surveys carried out by IFI indicate an absence of smaller eels that were present in surveys from the 1960s to the 1990s”.
The European eel is critically endangered and in 2007 the EU introduced a regulation requiring member states to implement management plans to help eel stocks recover. The latest advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) is that all mortality affecting silver eels should be reduced to – or kept as close to – zero as possible. Ireland submitted a review of its managment measures to the EU in 2015. 
ccc IFI is seeking expressions of interest by former eel fishermen in the key locations. To get an information pack with details on how to apply, please visit, call 01 8842600 or email The closing date for applications is 15th April 2016.

Angling Fun in Fermanagh

Celebrating Sport was the theme of the day at the Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen last Wednesday.  In recognition of the sport of angling in Northern Ireland we were delighted to receive an invitation from DCAL Inland Fisheries Group to present some of our coached anglers from the National Coarse Fishing Federation to join with the […]

Inroduction to Coaching Course 2nd April

Such is the demand currently we are running the Introductory Course again on the 2nd of April.

Book in soon to secure a place.


02April Coaching

New AFYDI Angling Hub is launched

Minister Ann Phelan launched the Kilkenny AFYDI hub at the Club House Hotel, in her address she was very encouraging to the members and supporters of the new Kilkenny AFYDI Hub.  The minister was very complimentary of the voluntary work being done in the community and the work of the Angling Council of Ireland with this initiative. It was very evident there was great interest in the new hub and Luke Boyle thanked the many sponsors that have already come forward in support.  Luke Boyle AFYDI Hub coordinator said the take up and local commitment is great,  John McGuiness TD was also very supportive of the work of the ACI and the Angling for Youth Development Ireland.

The Mayor and Chairperson of the Kilkenny Council also attended, Luke Boyle of SSTRAI explained he had received great political support for the new hub in the region and that this was very welcomed by all the anglers in the Kilkenny region. A number of TD’s and Councillors attended along with Suzanne Campion Head of Business Development Inland Fisheries Ireland and IFI Fisheries Officer support staff who have assisted in the  in the delivery of the pilot project.
Angling for Youth Development Ireland is a partnership package from the Angling Council of Ireland and Inland Fisheries Ireland IFI,  where angling groups partner with local community groups in order to offer young people of all backgrounds the opportunity to go fishing.  For more details on how to get involved please visit

Ireland Angling Expo 2016

2016 Salmon Conservation Fund Opens

Salmon Conservation Fund – Request for Applications 2016

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is now inviting applications for suitable qualifying salmon conservation projects under the Salmon Conservation Fund. The deadline for receipt of completed applications is Thursday, 31st March 2016.

Qualifying projects include: fish passage improvement; spawning enhancement; instream structures; river bank protection; fencing; riparian zone improvement; removal and control of exotic invasives; feasibility studies (which lead to future projects under the above headings to a maximum of 50% funding or €2,000 whichever is less); and screening for appropriate assessments.

Further details can be obtained on the IFI website at:


IFI launches stakeholder survey programme

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has today (11.02.16) launched a stakeholder survey programme to help the organisation to understand the opinions and attitudes of its stakeholders and to provide an effective service that will meet their needs and expectations into the future.

The programme is a key component of the National Strategy for Angling Development and forms part of a continuing examination of the recreational angling sector in Ireland. A series of surveys is planned to take place throughout 2016. Some of the key areas that will be examined during this programme include: IFI field operations; Irish angling participation; Irish angling expenditure patterns; Irish fisheries research; and the intrinsic benefits of angling in Ireland. The first survey, launched today, looks at IFI’s communication with stakeholders.

Stakeholders include state agencies, government departments, NGOs, anglers, tourism providers, consultants, researchers and all individuals or organisations interested in the inland fisheries sector.

Announcing the survey programme, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland, Dr Ciaran Byrne, said: “The programme of surveys is an important step to effect IFI’s commitment to stakeholder engagement, as outlined in its recently published National Strategy for Angling Development and its ongoing collaborative and partnership approach to inland fisheries conservation, protection and management.

“The first survey, on stakeholder communication, was developed to provide an opportunity for individuals and organisations to share their feedback. This feedback will be used to gain a better understanding of how IFI is viewed by its stakeholders and to shape and inform IFI’s communication strategy into the future.  Resources within IFI remain limited but we are looking at ways to make our communication more efficient, which will improve our working relationships with stakeholders; increase our mutual knowledge; and create an environment where we can work together more purposefully and effectively.”

IFI will notify stakeholders of the surveys via its websites, social media, press releases, email and through staff members. Responses from individuals or organisations who consider themselves to be stakeholders are welcome. Participation is on a voluntary basis and the first survey is available online at:

In the event that stakeholders require a non-web based means of submitting their view, this can be provided on request. All responses are confidential and will be maintained in accordance with data protection legislation. Respondents have the option to identify themselves or to remain anonymous. Results will be available within two months following the closing of the survey and will be published by IFI on its websites.

For more information, visit

Further Information:

Suzanne Campion Head of Business Development Inland Fisheries Ireland Anglesea Street, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.

Tel: 052 6180055 Fax: 052 6123971 Email: Website: