Because we are particularly aware that the lives of salmon and sea trout are spent in a variety of habitats, we have aligned our strategic thinking to the three principal types of habitat , giving us the ‘Three Pillars’ of our new policy.
Summarising our conclusions in a sentence as we finalise our ‘Three Pillars’ policy, AST’s work in fresh water (Pillar 3) will normally be done by working in partnership with others, but will take a higher ‘thought-leadership’ role in tackling the problems faced by salmon and sea trout in the littoral and oceanic zones (Pillars 1 and 2).
Please read on to find details of our activities in connection wih our new policy.
In early October the AST’s Scientific Panel (HSAP), consisting of nine distinguished scientists covering a range of disciplines related to the lives of salmon, chaired by Ken Whelan, meets in Edinburgh to finalise AST’s scientific priorities. The meeting will put ‘meat on the bone’ of our policy prior to production of a detailed work plan, which we will publish early in 2013.
Between now and Christmas 2012 we will focus on the following aspects of our work:
Pillar 1 – the oceanic zone Discussions on pelagic fishing and its impact on Atlantic salmon. In October Ken Whelan will take part in the EU-sponsored Pelagic Fisheries Regional Advisory Council (RAC). We want raised awareness among the wide range of participants, representing commercial fishermen, anglers, ecologists, environmentalists, government agencies etc, of the need for continuous monitoring of the impacts of pelagic fisheries on migrating Atlantic salmon, especially post-smolts.
Pillar 2 – estuaries and coastal zone Increasing knowledge of impacts of salmon farms on wild salmon and sea trout, and continuing to find options for mitigating them. AST Research Director, Professor Ken Whelan, will visit Shantou University, China in November to discuss a range of aquaculture issues with a focus on sustainable feeds. Our Chairman, Melfort Campbell and Chief Executive, Tony Andrews will visit the Atlantic Salmon Federation in St Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada, in October to take part in a workshop on Closed Containment salmon farming and to further our joint efforts to promote development of sustainable technologies for the industry. Following the CC workshop, Melfort and Tony will attend ASF’s AGM in New York in November as we develop closer links with ASF as our main international partner. In our discussions we will identify jointly funded projects in ocean tracking of salmon, genetic mapping, and an interchange of ideas for future projects.
Pillar 3 – the freshwater zone We acknowledge that the freshwater environment is largely covered by an array of lobbying, charitable, government and non government organisations, although, in areas such as stock assessment and the value of small streams for spawning and juvenile habitat, there are still some gaps, and a need for AST to support the sector. We shall focus on investigating the role of small streams in providing spawning and juvenile habitats for wild salmonids. An invitation-only workshop for scientists is planned during the period. The outcomes from this event will lead to an AST policy paper on the subject. We shall also be developing guidelines for managers, with an emphasis on stock assessment.
We are a very small charity, albeit with regular access to some of the most experienced and respected scientists in the fisheries sector. As such, it is vitally important that we focus on what is achievable, and avoid over-reaching our resources or duplicating the work of others. While a pragmatic approach should not restrict our long term aspirations for dealing with problems faced by migrating Atlantic salmon and sea trout throughout their range, we do need to keep our feet firmly on the ground, and that is what our new policy tries to do.
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