Policies for sustainable freshwater fisheries management

AFBI research in freshwater fisheries funded by the Northern Ireland Government Departments and Agencies, EU and other external research collaboration provides a scientific basis for conservation and fisheries management, based on scientific investigation of the relationships between fish populations, human pressures, and environmental change.

Freshwater fisheries science

Sample of glass eels, Strangford Lough AFBI has developed strong partnerships with Government department and Agencies in Northern Ireland with Local, National and European Union (EU) level responsibility for fisheries and environmental issues.  Evidence-based scientific advice underpins the formulation of appropriate environmental and economic policies for sustainable freshwater fisheries management in Northern Ireland.

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

Measuring a Pike before release, Lower Lough Erne


The work ranges over the following areas:

  • The ecology of salmon and trout, coarse fish and eels, focussing on population dynamics and the human and natural factors affecting stocks and stock-recruitment relationships.
  • Assessing the habitat requirements of these species, man-made and environmental pressures, 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 genetic structure in wild populations of, and the proportional contributions of individual spawning stocks to mixed stock fisheries.
  • The development of management plans for freshwater fish stocks and fisheries, and the provision of policy advice for the sustainable use of this resource.