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Biggest North Atlantic salmon plan rolled out

The largest-ever North Atlantic salmon egg-planting scheme in Iceland has just rolled out its next stage in -10°C conditions in the Selma River, with the aim of boosting fish stocks.

The Strengur conservation programme – one of many in the country – aims to seed around one million eggs from native fish each year in the higher reaches of rivers that salmon have been unable to reach in the past. This will open up new habitat and food resources to improve growth and survival rates in the critical early stages of life.

Extending the spawning areas and nursery grounds through new salmon ladders is also progressing as an important part of long-term plans to help Iceland’s fish thrive. These are moving forward with the help of investment from British chemical engineer and financier Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Strengur Angling Club.

Gisli Ásgeirsson, CEO of Strengur Angling Club, said, “Teams from Hafrannsóknarstofnun and Sela have shown real dedication to salmon conservation, working in -10 degrees centigrade to start the programme.

“This work is so important to help extend the spawning grounds of North Atlantic salmon in northeast Iceland, which is part of our wider conservation programme across the region. Working closely with the farmers and the local communities, we can build something sustainable and environmentally sound, that is a benefit to the local ecology and community, as well as maintaining this area as a world class fishing destination.”

In this round, eggs were planted in Kverká, Hvammsá, Miðfjarðará, Vesturdalsá and Selá, while genetic and scale samples were gathered from the parent fish that were then released. These areas will be revisited next summer after the eggs have hatched and the results measured.

In addition to direct contribution from Sir Jim, all profits from Strengur are now being re-invested back into salmon conservation there to protect these pristine rivers, extending the spawning grounds and protecting the local habitat.

Author: Simon Calvert

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