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AST/IBIS Stocking Workshop

Case Study - River Bush, Northern Ireland.


R. Kennedy1, W. Crozier1, D. Ensing1, J. Kane2, P. Prodohl3 & C. Johnston3.
1) ABFI, 2) Dept Culture, Arts & Leisure, 3) Queens University Belfast.

Contents
The River Bush as a monitored river. Pressures on the River Bush salmon stock. Enhancement on the River Bush, history, rationale & management objectives. Review of enhancement activities.

Main Salmon Producing Rivers In N. Ireland


River Bush

N W
40 0 40 Miles

E S

River Bush Salmon Station

Bush River
Length Catchment Area 67 km 340km2

5 km

River Bush Salmon Station


Facility established in 1973-4.
A series of upstream/downstream traps were set up at the station (Adult/Smolt). A series of long term databases on salmon survival established. One of relatively few long term monitoring stations across the Atlantic basin.

SMOLT TRAP

ADULT TRAP

Extensive Annual Electrofishing

PARR

ALEVIN

The complete Atlantic Salmon Lifecycle is monitored on the River Bush stock.

SMOLT

OVA POST SMOLT

ADULT

Pressures and Challenges to Salmon Production on the River Bush

Pressures on Freshwater Production Habitat Issues


Arterial Drainage Scheme. Excessive weed growth; degradation of spawning habitats. Intensive agricultural practices. Degradation of the riparian zone. Reduction in habitat quality 1980s-1990s.

450000 400000 350000 Area m-2 300000 250000 200000 150000

R. Bush Juvenile Salmonid Habitat Life Cycle Unit (Nursery) Categories

1983 1998

100000
50000 0 n1 n2 Habitat Category n3 total

ARTERIAL DRAINAGE

EXCESSIVE WEED GROWTH

Pressures on Freshwater Production - Predation


Major issues with avian predation. Kennedy & Greer (1988) estimated total daily predation by cormorants on the River Bush to range c. 653-1214 smolts in late April/early May. Potential annual predation rates c. 51-66% of the total smolt run.

No. of breeding pairs of cormorants on Sheep Island (Kennedy & Greer, 1988)

The Impact of these Pressures on the River Bush Salmon Stock.....

Wild smolts

10000

15000

20000

25000

30000

35000

40000

5000

0 1975 1976 1977 1978

1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994

River Bush Smolt Run 1973-1996

Year 1995

SQ Category

1983 0+ Salmon Survey

SQ Category

1996 0+ Salmon Survey

R. Bush Wild Ova Deposition & Compliance with Conservation Limit


6 5 million eggs 4 3 2 1 0

CL

year

Enhancement Plan
Enhancement stock using hatchery produced 0+ age class salmon. Target barren/underproductive freshwater habitats which historically supported juvenile fish. Improve freshwater production and compensate for loss/deterioration of spawning areas.

Management Objectives
Increase annual smolt production from the river to a target of 20,000 fish. Assist the stock to consistently attain CL. Monitor impact and outcomes of the management action.

R. Bush Stocking Plan


Challenge
Overstocking/competitive interaction with wild juveniles. Relatively low survival of introduced juvenile life stages Removal of wild spawners broodstock mining Effective monitoring of outcomes.

Mitigation
Reference to extensive annual electric fishing survey, i.d. recruitment gaps Implementation of best practice during stocking (low density/acclimation etc.) Utilisation of ranched salmon, derived from wild stock and outcrossed annually Long term monitoring capacity; EF, smolt trap etc.

Stocking History
Between 1997-2007 c. 3.87 million 0+ salmon stocked directly into freshwater habitats in the R. Bush. Between 1997-2001 unfed fry stocked, 2002 onwards unfed fry plus fed summerling fry stocked.
0.6 0.5 Million 0+ 0.4 Fed Unfed

0.3
0.2 0.1 0 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Stocking Year

Estimation of Survival Wild Cohorts


1+ Smolts (x+2)
Total smolt production
Ova Cohort YEAR X

2+ Smolts (x+3)

Ova to smolt survival

3+ Smolts (x+4)

Estimation of Contribution Supplemented Wild Cohorts


Fitted 1973-1995

YEAR year 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995

TOTAL OVA(M ) x 1.84 1.94 1.59 1.73 1.22 1.07 1.16 1.45 1.58 2.18 1.72 1.17 3.03 4.79 3.43 4.6 1.06 2.44 2.97 2.57 3.0 2.25

TOTAL SMOLT S 15717 19641 22378 36360 22243 12412 12440 13913 33623 28104 30790 21910 21216 19008 13893 20963 8610 13548 15742 4135 10495 19560

1+ x+2 4003 9307 9375 14194 2931 855 3037 1455 14346 11474 13371 1487 2052 3718 2318 5726 3219 4736 2661 1071 2647 4703

2+ x+3 11714 10318 12910 21802 19284 11472 9239 12458 18535 16401 17350 20035 18888 15218 11556 15233 5281 8812 13074 3064 7746 14728

3+ x+4 0 16 93 364 28 85 164 0 742 229 69 388 276 72 19 4 110 0 7 0 102 129

TOTAL SMOLT S 15717 19641 22378 36360 22243 12412 12440 13913 33623 28104 30790 21910 21216 19008 13893 20963 8610 13548 15742 4135 10495 19560

OVASMOLT % 0.85 1.01 1.40 2.10 1.82 1.16 1.07 0.95 2.12 1.29 1.79 1.87 0.70 0.39 0.41 0.46 0.81 0.56 0.54 0.16 0.35 0.87

1976 35000 1981 1983 2001 1982 2005 25000 1977 1984 20000 2003 1975 1985 1974 1994 2002 1995 1973 1990 1993 1991 1987 1998 1988 1986

30000

Smolts

15000

2004 1980 2006 1979 1996 1978 1999 1997 10000 2000 1989

5000 1992

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

4.0

4.5

Ova

Variability in Survival

Stock Recruitment Relationship

Model and Predict Smolt Production from Wild Ova Cohorts

Smolt output from annual ova cohorts


30000
No Stocking Unfed Fry

Unfed & Fed

25000 Total Number of Smolts

20000

15000

10000

5000

0 Year (Ova Cohort)


From: Kennedy, R.J., Crozier, W.W., Allen, M.M (2012). Journal of Fish Biology, 81(5):1730-1746.

Ground Truthing Survival Estimates.

Use of genetic tools for the monitoring of the River Bush supplemental stocking programme Unfed Fry
40 unique family pairings 40 male + 40 female broodstock (2002). Fertilized eggs (avg 3,798 per family) maintained in the hatchery. 90,500 unfed fry were stocked in the upper reaches of the R Bush (Characterized by limited suitable spawning habitat).

During the smolt runs of 2004 and 2005, 1,212 and 1,262 (total N = 2,474) smolts trapped & sampled for genetic analysis.
Broodstock screened for 25 microsatellite markers following modelling work (FAP and COLONY software), all smolts screened for a selected informative marker panel consisting of 6 markers (100% assignment to family). .

Summary results - parentage assignment


% of surviving No. Matches Estimated No. Hatchery-reared to Hatchery-reared smolts released in Broodstock smolts in TSR TSR

Cohort

TSR

Capt

2,004 2,005 Total

23,389 22,792 46,181

1,212 1,262 2,474

5.18 5.54 5.36

5 21 26

110 501 595

0.12 0.55 0.66

TSR Total Smolt Run Capt smolts intercepted and sampled at the River Bush Research Station

River Bush Salmon Station

Bush River
Fed fry survival experiment 2007

5 km

30,165 Fin clipped summerlings stocked in 2008 Aug/Sep

Survival of Fed 0+ Summerlings


2008 an experimental group of 30,165 summerlings adipose fin clipped and stocked. Areas selected after electric fishing surveys to reduce overstocking/competition. 1+ & 2+ FC smolts picked up in 2009 & 2010. Total survival fry to smolt = 5.12%

Management Outcomes
Smolt runs Adult escapement/Attainment of CL.

Freshwater Production Smolts


40000 35000 30000

Monitoring Phase

Management Phase

Wild smolts

25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 0

2005

1975

1977

1979

1981

1983

1985

1987

1989

1991

1993

1995

1997

1999

2001

2003

2007

2009

Recent Attainment of CL
6 5 4 Million eggs 3

2
1 0

Biological Characteristics Smolts


38 36 34 32 30 28 26 24 22 20 1+ Smolt Age Class Wild Stocked

Younger 1+ stocked origin smolts Smaller


2+

Weight (g)

1.07 1.05 Condition Factor k 1.03 1.01 0.99 0.97 0.95 1+ Smolt Age Class 2+ Wild Stocked

Lower CF

Biological Characteristics Smolts


1 FC Cum 0.8 Cumulative Frequency Wild Cum

Stocked origin smolts Differential Run Timing

0.6

0.4

0.2

60 50

Summerling Derived Smolts

% of Cohort

40
30 20 10 0 1+ 2+ Smolt Age 3+

Younger

Potential Implications for Marine Survival


Marine survival of hatchery reared R. Bush 1SW salmon to the Irish coast
25 20 % survival 15 10 5 0 1+ smolts 2+ smolts

Older larger smolts; higher survival. Risk from enhancing younger smolts?

1987

1997

1983

1985

1989

1991

1993

1995

1999

2001

2003

2005

2007

2009

smolt cohort

2011

Potential Implications for Marine Survival


Critical local importance of smolt run timing on the R. Bush.

From: Russell et al (2012). ICES J. Mar. Sci. 69 (9): 1549-1562

Appraisal of Objectives
Increase annual smolt production from the river to a target of 20,000 fish.

Assist the stock to consistently attain CL.

Monitor impact and outcomes of the management action.

Changing Management Priorities?


Scientific assessment conducted on the Bush has been useful to local management e.g. Abundance is not all important. Stocking was a relatively quick option BUT it cannot address and solve underlying habitat issues.

Stocking has RISKS....


Important to maximise the production of wild spawned smolts with optimum fitness. Other longer term conservation tools include habitat & fishery management

Fishery Management to Maximise Wild Escapement to NI Rivers.

Cessation of mixed stock fisheries

Catch & Release Angling

Habitat Improvement and Restoration on the River Bush

Gravel Addition

Weed Clearance

Future, the next phase....


Emphasis on maximising wild production via habitat management. Collaborative assessment of overall lifetime fitness of stocked fish.