Experts pledge to act

Press release, 27th January 2020.

RUNNING OUT OF TIME: WORLD EXPERTS PLEDGE TO ACT BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE FOR THE ATLANTIC SALMON.

  • Classified as endangered, the population of Wild North Atlantic Salmon has slumped by 70% and is now at its lowest level ever recorded[1].
  • World Experts met in Reykjavik to accelerate research into the conservation of this iconic species. 
  • The conference was arranged by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, an ardent supporter of the Atlantic Salmon, as evidence grows of collapsing wild populations. 
  • Dr Peter Williams, Technology Director of INEOS Group, says, “Collaborations of this quality and scale are incredibly important to secure the survival of the wild Atlantic Salmon. The world is now looking to Iceland and our Six Rivers Project to help inform conservation actions in other countries.”

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The Six Rivers Conservation Project, established by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Founder and Chairman of INEOS, has brought together leading global Experts at a conference on the Future of the Atlantic Salmon, held in Reykjavik on January 23rd

The Experts pledged to accelerate the scientific understanding of the threats to the species and rapidly establish new conservation strategies to reverse the decline. World-leading mathematicians, data analysts, ecologists, biologists, botanists from across the world will combine forces in one of the world’s largest salmon conservation initiatives. This is being jointly led by the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) Iceland and Imperial College UK. Key learnings will be networked across the world to help other ecosystems. 

“The North Atlantic Salmon is a keystone species in the ecosystem. Iceland’s rivers have simple ecosystems providing ideal research conditions. Their latitude also brings with it a potential sensitivity to the effects of climate change more so than in other parts of the world.” 

Professor Guy Woodward, Imperial College, London

Dr Rasmus Lauridsen, Head of Fisheries Research, Game & Wildlife Trust, UK highlighted new knowledge coming from the latest tagging techniques and analysis. This high-tech data is being gathered by the Six Rivers Project in its North East Iceland rivers to establish changes in feeding behaviour, growth and migration that might help decipher the puzzle

Dr James Rosindell, Reader in Biodiversity Theory at Imperial College, London, enlightened the conference with the use of predictive modelling, using new and historic data from decades of MFRI monitoring on the Six Rivers. As the project develops new models will begin to more accurately forecast changes in salmon populations, essential in the battle against their decline. 

The Six Rivers Conservation Project is focused on preserving both the land and river ecosystems across six rivers in North East Iceland, supporting one of the last safe-havens where salmon populations still thrive. The rivers selected are some of the simplest ecosystems of their kind. Building scientific knowledge from these ecosystems offers the best chance of identifying the reasons for, and strategies to, reverse this decline. 

The conservation strategies across the Six Rivers have a three-pronged approach; annual egg planting from salmon indigenous to the rivers, building salmon ladders to open-up new spawning areas and replenishing depleted indigenous vegetation and trees to boost food resources; all of which are intended to improve survival rates and population growth. These practical enhancements are undertaken in close collaboration with the local Farmers and Communities. 

Funding of this vitally important conservation and research comes from Sir Jim Ratcliffe directly and in the form of all profits from his Strengur Angling business and his Icelandic land holdings. As the Six Rivers Project develops it will become self-funding of its conservation work far into the future. 

“The world is now looking to Iceland and the Six Rivers Project to help inform conservation in other countries. It is a holistic programme that considers the river, the land, catchment areas and the marine environment. We are underpinning this approach by state-of-the-art science. This conference in Iceland, which we hope to hold annually, will play an incredibly important part in the survival of the Atlantic Salmon.”

Dr Peter Williams, Technology Director of INEOS Group

“The Atlantic Salmon is now endangered. By bringing together a collaboration of world Experts we aim to reverse the decline. Our conservation work with the Six Rivers Project is helping to support the salmon in the North East of Iceland, but we need to do a lot more. We hope the Governments will get behind us in these endeavors too.” 

Mr Gisli Asgeirsson, CEO of Strengur Angling
Fish caught in the rivers of the Six Rivers Salmon Conservation Project is released again.

[1] INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR THE EXPLORATION OF THE SEA WORKING GROUP ON NORTH ATLANTIC SALMON 2019www.ices.dk/community/groups/Pages/WGNAS.aspx

Leading Experts presenting at the conference included: Professor Guy Woodward of Imperial CollegeLondon, Dr Guðni Guðbergsson Director of the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute Iceland, Dr Colin Bull of The Missing Salmon Alliance and Dr Nikolai Friberg of Norwegian Institute for Water Research. They were joined by Professor Phil McGinnity from the Environmental Research Institute at University College Cork, Dr Rasmus Lauridsen Head of Fisheries Research at Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and Dr James Rosindell Reader in Quantitative Biology at Imperial College. Click here for more.