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Project SAMARCH to improve management of Salmon and Sea Trout Populations in the English Channel


2009 07 09 Sea Trout

Lead Partner: Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
Total Project Budget: 7.8 million euros
European Regional Development Fund contribution: 5.4 million euros
Number of Partners: 10 (5 French, 5 English)
Project Duration: 5 years

We’re funding 5.4 million euros towards a new environmental project, called SAMARCH (SAlmonid MAnagement Round the CHannel), that will provide vital research on the populations of salmonids (salmon and sea trout) in the Channel area to better inform the management of these populations.

With Atlantic salmon and sea trout populations declining by as much as 70% since the 1970s, SAMARCH aims to gather information on salmonid populations which will then be used to improve the management and protection of these populations. The research will focus on several key areas including tracking the movements of salmonid populations in estuaries and coastal waters to determine what proportion of fish die in these areas.

The information gathered from the 5 year project will then be used to improve the tools used by the regulatory bodies in England and France to manage their salmonids stocks and to push through changes in regulations on the management of salmonids in estuaries and coastal waters which, if implemented, could lead to a 6-9% increase in adult populations of salmonid in the Channel area. These changes in regulation will also have a direct impact on the water quality in estuaries and coastal waters.

The research is vitally important as Atlantic salmon and sea trout play a major role in coastal and river ecosystems, with juveniles providing a key source of food for other fish such as sea bass and lamprey, sea birds and otters. Salmonids also have a considerable economic importance through angling in Europe, estimated to be worth as much as €1.2 billion.

Dylan Roberts of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and Project Manager commented: “Until recently, management has focused largely on addressing issues in freshwater, however we know that over 90% of salmon that leave our rivers for their feeding grounds in the north Atlantic die at sea.

“Recent developments in fish tracking technology, DNA analysis and data modelling now enable us to investigate what proportion of this mortality occurs in the estuary and coastal areas, their movements through these areas, as well as an improvement in the tools used to manage salmon.

“This work is particularly important because of the growth of coastal renewable energy schemes such as underwater turbines which could harm fish.

"We are delighted that the Interreg France (Channel) England programme has decided to support our project and we look forward to working with our partners over the next 5 years.”