Freshwater fisheries


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 resource, through investigation of the relationships between fish populations, human pressures, and environmental change.


Bushmills salmon centre
Evidence-based scientific advice underpins the formulation of appropriate environmental and economic policies for sustainable freshwater fisheries management in Northern Ireland.

Working in partnership

AFBI has developed strong partnerships with DAERA Inland Fisheries, Agricultural and Environmental Policy Branches, covering the supply of research and advice to all Agencies with Local, National and European Union (EU) level responsibility for fisheries and environmental issues.


The core of AFBI freshwater fisheries research is based on long-term monitoring projects on Lough Neagh, Lough Erne and the River Bush. This research stimulates and informs shorter-term process orientated studies providing understanding of ecosystem change processes.

The work ranges over the following areas:

  • The ecology of salmonids, coarse fish stocks and eels, their population dynamics and the environmental drivers impacting on survival and stock/recruitment relationships.
  • Assessing the habitat requirements of these species, environmental pressures on them, and techniques for their refurbishment and re-instatement.
  • Developing techniques for the assessment, stocking and enhancement of freshwater fish stocks.
  • Assessment of the levels of exploitation on fisheries by commercial operators, anglers and predators.
  • Identifying the levels of genetic structuring in wild populations of salmon, and the proportional contributions of individual river stocks to mixed stock fisheries.
  • The development of management plans for freshwater fish stocks, and the provision of policy advice for the sustainable development of these resources.
    Measuring a pike before release, Lower Lough Erne

For more information contact the Freshwater fisheries group