An international Symposium in Reykjavik

Press Release 23/01/20


  • The conference has been arranged by The Six Rivers Conservation Project as evidence grows regarding the population collapse of the Atlantic Salmon; the species is now endangered.
  • Today, experts from around the world will meet in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss the future of the Atlantic Salmon. Iceland is a rare safe-haven for the Atlantic Salmon.
  • The conservation strategies being researched and implemented by the Six Rivers Conservation Project in North East Iceland will help inform the conservation of the species world-wide.
  • Dr Peter Williams, Technology Director of INEOS Group, says “The Atlantic salmon population has fallen to one-quarter of its 1970s level and is now categorised as endangered. It may be five minutes to midnight for the Atlantic Salmon. This conference is incredibly important to boost our scientific understanding of the reasons for the decline and to establish practical conservation strategies to ensure the long-term survival of this iconic species for future generations.”


The Six Rivers Conservation Project, established by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Founder and Chairman of INEOS, is hosting a ground-breaking International Conference on the Future of the Atlantic Salmon.

The conference, which is held in Reykjavik, will today bring together leading Experts from Iceland, Norway, the UK, Ireland and Canada to discuss the alarming decline in the North Atlantic Salmon population which has fallen to one-quarter of its 1970s level. The conference will discuss the scientific communities’ current understanding of the potential causes of this decline and conservation strategies that can bring this species back from the edge of extinction.

Leading Experts include Professor Guy Woodward of Imperial College London, 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 are 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.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Founder and Chairman of INEOS, has been one of the highest profile supporters of salmon conservation in Iceland for many years and founded the Six Rivers Conservation Project to protect this iconic species.

The Six Rivers Project is focused on preserving both the land and river eco-systems across several rivers in North East Iceland, helping the unique salmon populations there to thrive. The project is of an ambitious scale with substantial investment in both near-term conservation work in the field and in longer-term research to help protect one of the last safe-havens for North Atlantic Salmon.

Scientists working on the Six Rivers Conservation Project hope to establish why the Atlantic Salmon is disappearing. The rivers selected in the North East Iceland are pristine and some of the simplest ecosystems where this species thrives. Building scientific knowledge from these eco-systems in Iceland offers the best chance of identifying the reasons for and strategies to reverse this decline. Success in Iceland will provide learnings that can be used across the world.

The Six Rivers Project’s conservation strategies 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 proven to improve population growth and survival rates. All in close collaboration with the local Farmers and Communities.

Funding of this vitally important conservation and research has come from Sir Jim Ratcliffe directly and in the form of all profits from his Strengur Angling business and Icelandic land holdings. The aim is to create a self-funding initiative that will sustain its conservation work far into the future.

“This conference will help raise the public awareness that the Atlantic Salmon is now endangered. By bringing together the world’s Experts we hope to establish new ways to reverse this 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 these endeavors too.”

Mr Gisli Asgeirsson, CEO of Strengur Angling

Information about the symposium’s speakers can be found HERE.

Click here for more information about the Symposium and the day’s agenda.

About Imperial College London

Imperial College London (legally Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine) is a public research university located in London.

In 2019–2020, Imperial was globally ranked 9th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, 9th in the QS World University Rankings, 8th in Reuters The World’s Most Innovative Universities, and 24th in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Student, staff, and researcher affiliations include 14 Nobel laureates, 3 Fields Medalists, 1 Turing Award winner, 74 Fellows of the Royal Society, 87 Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and 85 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

About MFRI

Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) is a government institute under the auspices of the Ministry of Industries and Innovation. The institute employs around 190 staff, operates 2 research vessels and 10 branches around the country, including an aquaculture experimental station.

MFRI conducts various marine and freshwater research and provides the Ministry with scientific advice based on its research on marine and freshwater resources and the environment.

MFRI is leading in marine and freshwater research in Icelandic territories and the arctic, providing advice on sustainable use and protection of the environment with an ecosystem approach by monitoring marine and freshwater ecosystems.

The main research priorities are research on marine and freshwater ecosystems, sustainable exploitation of main stocks, ecosystem approach to fisheries management, research on fishing technology and seafloor and habitat mapping.

MFRI is highly regarded in the scientific community and is therefore a valuable research partner, active at an international level with a strong infrastructure and high-quality equipment. MFRI is an appealing workplace with progressive human resources policy to strengthen the institute’s competitiveness and an effective gender equality policy.

About Strengur Angling Club

Strengur Angling Club, which recently celebrated its 60th Anniversary, manages several of the most exclusive salmon rivers in Iceland, including the Hofsá and the Selá rivers in Vopnafjörður on the East Coast of Iceland.


INEOS is a global manufacturer of petrochemicals, speciality chemicals and oil products. It comprises 34 businesses each with a major chemical company heritage.

Its network spans 183 sites in 26 countries throughout the world. INEOS products make a significant contribution to saving life, improving health and enhancing standards of living for people around the world. Its businesses produce the raw materials that are essential in the manufacture of a wide variety of goods: from paints to plastics, textiles to technology, medicines to mobile phones – chemicals manufactured by INEOS enhance almost every aspect of modern life.

Decline – A Numbers Game

  • According to the Atlantic Salmon Trust, the marine survival of the wild salmon population has declined by 70% in the last 25 years.
  • In Scotland, the estimated number of salmon returning to the Scottish coast has dropped steeply by over 50% in the past two decades.
  • 50,000 salmon are now caught in the UK – the worst result on record and a fraction of the 600,000-800,000 caught annually until the 1960’s.
  • Only 3-5% of salmon hatched in UK rivers return to breed compared with 25% two decades ago.
  • In Norway, the number returning from the ocean is now less than 50% of levels measured thirty years ago.
  • In the USA the estimated number of salmon returning has decreased by 17% in the last two years alone.
  • At the end of 2018, the last Scottish wild salmon netting station closed because there were so few fish to catch.
  • Wild Atlantic salmon stocks have already disappeared completely from at least 309 river systems in Europe and North America.