The Six Rivers Salmon Conservation Project builds on a legacy of conservation and enhancement spanning more than 60 years

The Six Rivers Conservation Project is a long-term conservation programme in Iceland to help its salmon fishing become the best and most sustainable in the world. Investments are made in local conservation projects along the main salmon rivers in North East Iceland. The aim is to protect the neighbouring land and the sensitive ecosystems across the region.

 “With the high level of science being applied here and the significance to nature conservation in general, we hope the governments of the countries concerned will also support the project.”

Peter Williams Group Technology Director, INEOS

Conservation strategies that form part of this plan include extending spawning areas through the construction of new salmon ladders in the Vopnafjörður, Hafralónsá, Hofsá and Miðfjarðará rivers. Extensive egg planting across each of these rivers, in addition to the Selá, is also supported by a general “catch and release” policy.

In collaboration with the Vopnafjörður municipality investments are also made in a plan involving the reforestation and replanting of vegetation in the area to improve soil erosion and the health of the river systems.

Through partnership with the Icelandic Marine and Freshwater Research Institute and universities in Iceland and abroad, the conservation program also includes an investment in an in-depth long-term study into the health of Icelandic salmon in the area’s rivers and the North Atlantic, to give the species the best chance of survival. 

The Six Rivers Project brings new investment and refurbishment of lodges, using local craftsmen and companies. It will actively encourage farmers to remain on the land, to maintain their traditional agriculture and the quality of habitats alongside these rivers, as well as providing direct support to local communities.

Improvements and early investment on the Selá are already showing positive results, with catch numbers increasing year on year. A positive sign that his conservation plans are moving in the right direction, giving nature a chance to thrive.

“By undertaking this project Iceland will become a global centre of excellence for salmon conservation. However, the findings from this research and applied conservation initiatives are being networked across the science and conservation communities to help recover salmon populations in the UK, US, Canada and Scandinavia,” said Peter Williams.

“The conservation here is holistic. The land and the rivers are intimately linked together. Getting buy-in from the community and local and national authorities is essential.  Land ownership has been essential in the success of this conservation, to the investment, focus and speed of response. There are no plans to expand beyond Northeast Iceland. The Six Rivers Conservation project has global significance but needs the support of Iceland.”

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