Genetics

Focusing Atlantic Salmon Management on Populations Project (FASMOP)

OHFT FASMOP report

Project Background and Principles:

Recent genetic analysis of salmon populations in other rivers has indicated that river stocks may be structured on fine scale into multiple distinct breeding populations. For example, salmon breeding above and below waterfalls or other natural features may often be heritably different in ways that affect their behaviour, survival and reproductive success. This can be true of neighbouring tributary populations and key to allowing each to cope with particular environmental conditions than the other. Therefore intermixing of the populations may not be desirable. In large rivers many different populations can potentially exist and an understanding of this population structure is essential for the development of effective stock conservation and management programmes.

This partnership project between RAFTS, Marine Scotland (MS) Freshwater Laboratory and individual District Salmon Fishery Boards (DSFB) and Fisheries Trusts will combine the financial, management and staff resources of Fisheries Trusts and DSFBs with the scientific and technical genetic analysis expertise and facilities of MS.  It will collect and analyse a databank of tissue samples from river catchments across the length and breadth of Scotland.

The tissues will be used for molecular genetic screening and the insights gained into local population structuring used to inform and refine local management actions to protect the genetic integrity of our salmon stocks and better manage the economically important fisheries they support. The extent of the co-ordinated programme of sample gathering and analysis is unprecedented in Scotland.

The work, undertaken first and foremost to inform local management, will also contribute to the MS work on the genetic character of Scottish salmon stocks as part of the pan European NASCO sponsored and EU funded SALSEA-MERGE project.  Funding from this project will cover some of the costs of genetically screening local stocks.  The main funding support for genetic screening will come from Scottish Government funding provided to support local fisheries management activities and from monies raised locally by trusts and boards. This programme of sampling and analysis is currently funded until April 2011.

Further information on the SALSEA project is available at:

http://www.nasco.int/sas/salsea.htm

Project Aims and Objectives

The project seeks to:

  • Establish the number and spatial boundaries of breeding populations of salmon within any Scottish river system using micro-satellite genetic markers;
  • Establish the ancestral relationships and functional biological differences between wild salmon stock components across Scottish rivers;
  • Use information and insights gained to improve local management practice and increase the of focus salmon management on local breeding populations as these are the fundamental biological units underpinning recruitment in river stocks

Project Outputs

The project will provide:

  • Detailed local population structure insights for rivers within Fisheries Trust and DSFB areas for application in local management decision making;
  • Atlantic salmon population structure information for river catchments across Scotland;
  • Contribute to the development of national and international scale knowledge and understanding of the factors underlying population structuring; and
  • A tissue sample bank for, subject to all partner agreement, future use in studies of the impacts of environmental change e.g. global warming and for providing further insights as genetic analysis techniques advance.

Funding

The Scottish Government has awarded a 3-year grant to RAFTS to support the preparation and implementation of fishery management plans across Scotland.  This programme of sampling and analysis is supported by a proportion of this grant due to the pan Scotland interest in this work by RAFTS members.

A number of individual Fisheries Trusts and DSFBs have contributed additional sums to the programme to support analysis of samples.  Further funding will be sought and is anticipated to be confirmed over the course of the project.  Additional funding may allow the extension of the project beyond the current April 2011 end point.  Year 1 support was also provided by a grant award from the Atlantic Salmon Trust.

MS are supporting the project by providing access to line and technical management resources, conducting and completing the genetic screening and analysis within the MS Freshwater Laboratory in Pitlochry and the provision of office and laboratory facilities and equipment support.

OHFT Contribution

As of December 2009 the OHFT has collected approximately 600 samples from 13 catchments throughout the islands. Of these 250 will be analysed through the FASMOP project, and approximately 170 samples have been selected for analysis by the SALSEA project. An interim report into the findings of the study is expected in spring 2010.

For more information on the FASMOP project please contact the Trust Biologist.

Map of Genetic samples taken so far