Rejuvenating the Rivers: Insights from the Ure Salmon Stocking Symposium

Written by: Nigel Geary
Last week, I found myself among a distinguished gathering at the Yorkshire Dales Salmon Group’s (YDSG) Ure Salmon Stocking symposium, nestled within the serene expanses of Swinton Park Hotel. The hotel, with its grandeur and lush surroundings, served as the perfect backdrop for an event that drew passionate individuals from near and far. The symposium was marked by an unexpected but delightful attendee with Jeremy Wade, the renowned angler and filmmaker. Jeremy, a fervent supporter of the YDSG, had traveled to Masham, eager to engage in discussions about salmon conservation – a true testament to his dedication to the cause. I must say, I was fortunate that he sat next to me, which afforded me the opportunity to discuss various points with him. He was extremely accommodating, taking the time to engage with many attendees who wished to converse with him.
The symposium aimed to highlight the commendable efforts of various hatchery operators who have made significant strides in salmon conservation. Among the speakers was Bob Kindness from the Carron, whose work I have followed with great interest since first coming across it in a BBC programme. Despite the contentious views surrounding hatcheries, it’s hard to overlook the positive impacts these facilities have had on salmon populations in various systems.

Salmon conservation, as we know, is of paramount importance, not just for the angling community but for the broader ecosystem. The symposium underscored the urgent need for action, especially in light of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) latest Red List, which paints a grim picture for freshwater fish species, including the Atlantic Salmon. The potential extinction of these species not only affects biodiversity but also the numerous species that depend on them, like the killer whales in the Pacific Northwest, who are facing starvation due to dwindling Chinook Salmon runs.

The discussions at the symposium were not just about fishing or fisheries; they delved deeper into the survival of the salmon species itself. This shift in focus is crucial, given that current conservation policies seem inadequate in stemming the tide of decline. It was evident that the attendees, predominantly anglers, share a deep-seated passion for preserving salmon populations. Their dedication to the cause is a beacon of hope in the fight against extinction.
To convey the wealth of information shared during the symposium, I’ve decided to break down the event into five key parts, each focusing on different speakers. This approach will not only make the insights more digestible but also ensure that the important messages from the symposium reach as wide an audience as possible.
Eddie Wyvill
Throstur Ellidason
Vic Price

Part 1 – A Commencement with Passion and Purpose

– Welcome Address by Lord Swinton

– Introduction by Eddie Wyvill, YDSG Chair

– Ure Hatchery’s Salmon Stocking Success by Dave Bamford

Part 2 – Diverse Approaches to Salmon Recovery

– River Cree Hatchery & Habitat Trust Insights by Murdo Cree

Part 3 – International Perspectives on Salmon Stocking

– Stocking the Jokla and Breiddalsa Rivers by Throstur Ellidason

Part 4 – Lessons in Persistence and Innovation

– Saving the Carron Salmon by Bob Kindness
– Welsh Hatchery Success Stories by Keith Scriven

Part 5 – Towards a Sustainable Future

– River Lune Stocking Programme by Vic Price
In conclusion, heartfelt thanks are due to the Yorkshire Dales Salmon Group for orchestrating such an enlightening and passionate symposium. It underscored the zeal within the salmon angling community—a sentiment of awakening, a call to action. As a part of this community, we are shifting from inertia to advocacy, fighting for the future of the illustrious King of Fish.
Salmon face myriad obstacles in their life journey, compelling us to confront our reflection with a crucial inquiry: “What measures can we take to ensure the survival and prosperity of this species?” It’s a species that feeds not just a wide array of other creatures but also our human spirit, anchoring cultural and natural heritage that we aspire to bequeath to those who follow.
The presentations at the symposium serve as a beacon for proponents of judicious stocking programs, providing personal life evidence to reinforce their stance. The collective resolution from these dialogues is unmistakable: With careful management and collaborative effort, we can uphold the genetic diversity of salmon populations and make significant strides toward safeguarding them.
We are charged with a formidable but noble task—to confront and tackle the multifaceted challenges facing Atlantic salmon both in the UK and globally. Let this be our clarion call, a unifying pledge not to let this species falter on our watch. For in our hands lies the ability to shape a legacy wherein the salmon continues to thrive, a gift of immeasurable value for generations to come.
As we close the chapter on this symposium and the reflections shared herein, it’s important to note that the views expressed in this blog are my own and not an official stance or policy position of the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association (RFCA). The RFCA is a diverse assembly of members, a collective with varied perspectives on the practice of stocking. This diversity of opinion is both acknowledged and deeply respected within the organization.
Any policy related to stocking or the broader spectrum of fisheries management must be democratically decided upon, carrying the mandate of the RFCA membership rather than any single individual. It is this inclusive approach that ensures a fair representation of all voices within the association and maintains the integrity of our collective decisions.
In a matter as intricate and consequential as the conservation and management of salmon, each perspective is valuable and warrants consideration. As such, while I advocate for and share my experiences and opinions, they are but one part of a much larger, ongoing conversation among all members of the RFCA. Our shared love for the rivers and the life they sustain unites us, even as we navigate the complexities of conservation together.