Freshwater ecosystems management

AFBI research in freshwater fisheries is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and provides a scientific basis for conservation and management of the freshwater fisheries resource, through investigation of the relationships between fish populations, human pressures, and environmental change.

Research projects

Active freshwater fish research areas include investigations on salmon and trout, eels and coarse fish with an emphasis on documenting population level changes. Long term monitoring data series are used as a research tool to investigate links between fish population change and environmental change driven by factors including climate and weather patterns and spread of invasive aquatic species . Expertise in fish ecology is backed by capability in fish population genetics.

Specific research lines include:

  • Long term changes in marine and freshwater survival of Atlantic salmon and the need for adaptive management and advice on stock management and sustainable harvest levels
  • Establishing biological reference points for resident and migratory trout stocks
  • Setting out a scientific monitoring basis for managing mixed commercial and recreationally used fish stocks in Loughs Neagh and Erne
  • Genetic studies of population structure in salmon and other species to define dicrete stock units for management
  • Monitoring eel population levels in the context of international regulations and establishing sustainable management systems for commercial eel fishing.