What is SMOLTRACK?
- SMOLTRACK is an EU-wide project coordinated by NASCO. By conducting field research and acquiring new data, SMOLTRACK acts as a platform for salmonid telemetry knowledge.
- SMOLTRACK allows international lead researchers to come together and share knowledge and best practices, with the goal of establishing an EU strategic salmon telemetry advisory group.
- SMOLTRACK will help scientists to learn about survival rates of salmon smolts during their migration through the lower parts of rivers, estuaries and coastal areas, providing data on smolt run timing and migration behavior.
- Ultimately, SMOLTRACK will inform future salmon management and conservation work on an EU level.
What are we doing?
By attaching small transmitters to migrating fish, we are able to follow their movements as they swim downstream. To do so, we deploy listening stations in strategic points and have teams on-site equipped with antennas keeping record of the fish locations.
The tracking allows us to learn how many fish make it out of the river! Transmitters that stay in the same place for a long time or that disappear from the river without reaching the sea have likely been predated.
Understanding the drivers behind the smolts' survival allow us to develop better management policies which aim to protect this important species and ensure the Atlantic salmon does not disappear from our rivers.
SMOLTRACK III is going live!
SMOLTRACK III will identify and evaluate the relative contribution of several factors responsible for smolt mortality. Ultimately, this will better inform fisheries management strategies that can optimise natural smolt production and consequently increase the number of wild adult returns. Shortly, SMOLTRACK III will have three main action targets:
- Work package 1: Understand the principal factors affecting smolt survival during their migration through the freshwater environment and transition to the marine environment.
- Work package 2: Evaluate the influence of temperature on smolt-migration timing.
- Work package 3: Assess the accuracy of telemetry-based assessments to provide information on smolt migration habits and survival.
Both WP1 and WP2 aim to provide a scientific basis to better inform fisheries managers in their implementation of measures to reduce negative pressures on juvenile production and out-migrating smolts. The timing of outmigration has been shown to correlate with sea temperature; we will test this on a large geographic scale and the results will also point to the effects of increasing sea temperatures on smolt survival. Additionally, the output from WP3 will enable the verification of the accuracy of telemetry-based survival studies and highlight any potential limitations of tagging to reliably assess salmonid migration. This will be done by comparing the migration and survival of two groups of smolts, one trapped and tagged at the moment of migration and the other tagged and released before migration starts.
Find out what our teams have been doing!
March 2020 - PIT stations
The smolt trap at River Bush has been equipped with a PIT station, capable of detecting both the smolts on their way to the sea, and also the adults once they return!
March 2020 - Getting ready for smolt season
IFI is getting ready to deploy acoustic receivers in River Errif and Killary harbour to track migrating Atlantic salmon smolts.
February 2020 - Environmental parameters
Weather and temperature stations
These stations keep track of the environmental conditions in the rivers, and will play an important role in the results of the Work Package 3!
January 2020 - Fresh from the press!
Marine mortality in the river? Atlantic salmon smolts under high predation pressure in the last kilometres of a river monitored for stock assessment. Learn more.
May 2019 - First results!
Recovering radio tags allows us to directly link the smolt predation to the predator. In this case, our smolt was eaten by a mammal, most likely an otter. Other common predators are herons, cormorants and bigger fish!
April 2019 - Fieldwork season begins!
The SMOLTRACK fieldwork season started and all our partners are out in the field, looking for the tagged Atlantic salmon smolts!
February 2019 - Year of the Salmon.
In the International Year of the Salmon, SMOLTRACK's goal is even more pertinent.
Listen to what the SMOLTRACK partners have to say!
February 2019 - Preparing this year's work.
The SMOLTRACK partners came together in Dublin, Ireland, to discuss the way forward and set this year's plans in motion! Learn more in IFI's press release.
December 2018 - Fresh from the press!
A good part of the smolts migrating out of river Skjern faces difficulties in finding their way to the sea. When testing different groups of smolts, our team found that naturalised smolts were more likely to survive the fjord crossing. An unexpected result! Learn more.
April 2018 - Fieldwork season is up
Before the smolt run begins, the SMOLTRACK partners must set up the equipment. After deploying all the hydrophones, our partners will capture, tag, release and follow the Atlantic salmon smolts during their migration to the sea!
March 2018 - Preparing the logistics of this year's fieldwork.
The SMOLTRACK partners came together in Galicia, Spain, to discuss the way forward and set this year's plans in motion!
November 2017 - Discussing the results.
After the fieldwork season has passed and the results were analysed, the SMOLTRACK partners came together in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to discuss the results.
Read more in AFBI's webpage
March 2017 - Setting the equipment.
Rotary screw traps allow us to harmlessly capture Atlantic salmon smolts as they migrate, while ensuring that predators do not enter the trap and eat the fish before we can release them!
February 2017 - Preparing the fieldwork.
The SMOLTRACK partners came together in Galway, Ireland, to plan the fieldwork and consolidate the Standard Operating Procedure.
Where are we working?
SMOLTRACK is coordinated by North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) and currently has eight partners. This allows us to understand how different populations are keeping up with natural and anthropogenic pressures in a wide geographical range of conditions.
Rivers Skjern & Storå
Technical University of Denmark
National Institute of Aquatic Resources
General Directorate of Natural Heritage, Environmental Ministry, Galician GovermentWebsite