A unique international scientific mission - to investigate
the increasing mortality of salmon at sea - has sailed from
the port of Killybegs aboard the Marine Institute’s research
vessel, RV Celtic Explorer.
The project - SALSEA-Merge - will investigate the migration
and distribution of salmon in the North-East Atlantic. It
will involve three marine surveys during 2008 and 2009, to
be conducted by Irish, Faroese and Norwegian research vessels
and will use cutting-edge DNA technology instead of conventional
salmon tags. Similar programmes are also planned for 2008
in both North America and Greenland.
The €5.5 million project is funded by the European Union,
with significant contributions from a consortium of interested
parties - including the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation
Organisation (NASCO) and the TOTAL Foundation.
Ireland has played a major role in the planning and implementation
of this Salmon-at-Sea programme, which includes the use of
Ireland’s research vessels - RV Celtic Explorer and
RV Celtic Voyager. The programme is a unique public private
partnership, which will follow the small juvenile salmon from
southern Europe to the Barents Sea in the far North. It will
involve three marine surveys over the summer months in 2008
The first of these surveys has already been conducted using
the RV Celtic Voyager and the main Irish survey commenced
from Killybegs aboard the RV Celtic Explorer. Its mission
is to map the migration and the distribution of salmon stocks
at sea, using ground-breaking genetic fingerprint technology.
This cutting-edge innovation, which replaces conventional
salmon tags, has already facilitated the mapping of all of
the major salmon stocks in Europe. Using methods similar to
the DNA analysis used in tracking criminals, it identifies
individual fish caught at sea by analysing their natural genetic
code, which can then be matched back to their region or river
In addition to the EU-funded FP7 SALSEA Merge programme,
there is also a parallel programme taking place in August
of this year with Canadian and US involvement and their survey
will parallel in the western Atlantic what the SALSEA Merge
programme is undertaking in the east.
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