Ireland’s salmon numbers tracked online through EU initiative

24 Apr 2017

Image: Sekar B/Shutterstock

An international project to measure salmon numbers has seen Inland Fisheries Ireland begin publishing live data from River Erriff.

Catching, tagging and monitoring juvenile salmon (smolts) in the River Erriff is the order of the day after an EU project was revealed online.

The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation monitors salmon behaviour across Ireland, England, Northern Ireland, Spain and Denmark.

Live track

Today (24 April), Inland Fisheries Ireland produced a live track of salmon numbers at the River Erriff.

The Co Mayo study saw researchers catch juvenile salmon in traps in the Black River, a tributary of Erriff, before attaching sensors to them and releasing them back into the wild.

The Erriff is one of the premier salmon fishing rivers in Ireland and its smolt run typically occurs over six weeks during April and May.

“This is an exciting project, which will allow us to gather new information around the survival and timing of salmon smolts journeying seaward through the River Erriff, and into and through inshore coastal waters,” said Dr Cathal Gallagher, head of R&D at Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Daily smolt counts are being uploaded onto an online monitoring tool called ‘Smoltrack’.

The salmon smolts are tagged with miniature acoustic transmitters and their subsequent migration is followed via acoustic listening stations situated at various locations.


This data collected will help scientists to understand the survival rates of salmon smolts during their migration through the lower parts of rivers, estuaries and coastal areas.

It will also provide information on smolt-run timing and migration behaviour.

“We look forward to determining more about the smolts once they have been tagged by following their migration journey,” said Gallagher.

“As we are working with partners in Northern Ireland, England, Spain and Denmark, we can also learn from the data gathered in their regions.

“Ultimately, this information will inform our work in the area of salmon conservation, which will prove invaluable to Ireland’s fisheries resource in the long term.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic