The Loughs Agency is about to deploy a rotary screw tap on the River Faughan to build up key data on Sea Trout stocks for the second consecutive year.
It’s part of the Agency’s comprehensive freshwater fisheries monitoring programme which is composed of many different projects across its jurisdiction on both sides of the border.
Environmental scientist Art Niven explained that 2014 was the first year that the Agency used the traps to count Sea Trout and Lamprey stocks in the popular Salmon fishing river. It previously deployed the apparatus solely to get a better picture of the Faughan’s salmon population.
The ongoing work will enlighten various conservation agencies’ understanding of what is happening to Sea or White Trout in the west of Ireland and Britain.
Anecdotal accounts suggest a collapse has occurred but gaps persisting in hard evidence.
Mr Niven explained: “In Spring, we regularly deploy a rotary screw tap on the River Faughan. This is a trap used to capture migrating fish.
“Traditionally, we have used this to capture downstream migrating Atlantic Salmon smolts.
“Since 2014, we have deployed the trap to capture Sea Trout smolts and migrating Lamprey. This is to collect key biological data to add to our growing base line of information.”
Once captured the smolts and Lamprey are taken ashore, measured and sampled.
Adipose fins from the Trout and tissue from the Lamprey are taken for genetic analysis. All of this data feeds database systems giving the Agency a better understanding of what’s happening.
“All fish are carefully returned to the river to complete their migrations,” said Mr Niven.
During the Summer further monitoring work will also be undertaken on the Faughan in line with the EU Water Framework Directive.
Salmon, Trout, Eel and Lamprey will be surveyed by a variety of methods including electrofishing, seine and fyke netting.
“During the Summer months Loughs Agency staff undertake an ongoing monitoring project in support of the Water Framework directive.
“Working in sometimes challenging environments a variety of survey equipment is used to capture representative samples of fish from surveillance sites, which are monitored on a three year rolling basis,” explained Mr Niven.
Video produced for Loughs Agency by Gardiner Mitchell Photography and reproduced with the permission of the Loughs Agency.