Celtic Sea Trout Initiative


The Celtic Sea Trout Project will be holding an open evening at the Ivy Bush Royal hotel in Carmarthen on Wednesday 21st March from 19.00 hours (see attached programme) for anglers and fishery owners who have assisted with the scale sampling on rivers in South West Wales. The purpose of the meeting is to provide feedback on progress to date with the marine and freshwater fieldwork sampling programmes and to outline some of the preliminary results emerging from the project.


We cordially invite you to attend, along with any of your members and other contacts who have helped us with scale collections in the past and/or who might be willing to do so over this coming season.


RSVP as soon as possible to me at fishskill@btinternet.com or phone 01874 730321.






Meeting with Anglers & Fisheries Owners


Wednesday 21st March



19.00 – 1930.               Refreshments on arrival.


19.30. – 19.45.            Introduction & Project Background

David Letellier, Environment Agency Wales


19.45 – 20.15.             Fieldwork Sampling; Performance to date.

Dr William Roche, Inland Fisheries Ireland.


20.15 – 20.30.             Prize Draw


20.30 – 21.00.             Preliminary Results from Genetics Programme for identifying discrete stocks and rivers of origin in marine & freshwater environments.

Dr Phil McGinnity, University College Cork.


21.00 – 21.30.             Progress on determining freshwater production, marine ecology & adult life history.

                                    Dr. Nigel Milner, APEM Ltd.


21.30 – 21.45.            Question & Answer Session.



Celtic Sea Trout Project, Angler Feedback, January 2012

Website: http://www.celticseatrout.com/about/programme.htm



The Celtic Sea Trout Project (CSTP) is a European Union, Interreg IVA-funded, Ireland-Wales collaborative project on the status, distribution, genetics and ecology of sea trout around the Irish Sea. This note briefly outlines progress in 2011 for the many helpers and participants in angling clubs, river trusts and other organisations.  More detailed technical accounts will be available in due course.



The CSTP is reliant upon effective field sampling to collect data and material such as scales from fish for the scientific analysis. For example, the genetics and microchemistry analysis, that will tell us about the mixing and distribution of stocks, requires a baseline of measurements to be made in all the principal rivers around the Irish Sea which are likely to contribute to sea trout stocks.  River sampling of juvenile trout for the genetics was the focus of the CSTP scientific team’s work in 2010 and was completed in 2011, using a large scale electro-fishing programme, taking samples from around 80 rivers.


Sampling in the sea

Marine sampling of sea trout is a key part of the project because it has not been done before in the Britain and Ireland. We want to know, amongst other things, where they go, what they feed on and how fast they grow. This is a challenging task but the CSTP team has made good progress. We have had to develop new methods for trawl sampling and have used them successfully in surveys from Dublin to the Solway coast, via the Isle of Man.  Shore sampling along the coasts of Wales, England and Scotland has proved more difficult; but the collections are still sparse and the marine sampling, including trawl sampling off Cardigan Bay and South Wales, will be intensified in 2012. Shore sampling in Ireland has yielded good results and this programme will be expanded in 2012.


Sampling in rivers

A major part of the sampling programme is the collection of scales for analysis of life histories, and growth rates.  For this purpose we need to know which rivers they came from and, apart from fish traps of which there are only three across the whole CSTP area (Tawe, Dee and Lune), the sampling of adults in rivers has to be done by angling.  This part of the sampling programme has required extensive communication with angler groups and distribution of thousands of sampling kits and scale envelopes.  Several talks on the CSTP were given during the winters of 2008/9, 2009/10 and 2010/11 to clubs and associations across Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England.  We aim to collect scales from at least 300 adult sea trout from each of the selected rivers over the project.


The scale sampling to date has had mixed fortunes, bearing in mind the target of 300 (Fig 1). The participation has been very good with over 1,600 anglers sending in 3974 sets, of which 2,322 came in 2011; so a big THANK YOU for all of those. Some rivers have done particularly well, such as the Border Esk, the Irish Dee, Argideen, Castletown and Currane, and on others some of the shortfall has been made up with other forms of sampling.  We will continue the sampling in 2012.


Sample processing and data analysis

Genetic analysis at University College Cork and Bangor University has been completed to establish a baseline of genetic variation and has shown remarkably strong structuring, with patterns that appear to reflect the ancient glacial history of the Irish Sea. This information will be used to assign marine sea trout to their regions or rivers of origin, in order to learn how they distribute themselves at sea.


Scales from the past two years are currently being read and analysed and are being used to derive the ages, spawning history and  growth rates of individual fish throughout their lives in rivers and sea. .The bulk of this time-consuming work will be done by summer 2012.  Other tasks on sea trout marine feeding, marine distribution modeling and fisheries analysis will be completed during 2012.   The other work includes dissecting organs and tissues from 2000+ adult fish, microchemical analysis of the inner ear bones, measuring and weighing 5,000+ fry, and scale reading and analysis of the large historical collection of scales that the CSTP has brought together. So, coupled with the year round sampling, the scientists are fully occupied.



Figure 1 Rivers, with more than 10 samples at Jan 2012, ranked by scale sample size.


Sampling by anglers in 2012

The prize draw for the champion scale samplers will be held in Carmarthen 21st March 2013, but the CSTP needs the continued support of anglers in 2012. Scales can be taken easily once you have the basic kit which we provide. CSTP project team members are available to present talks to your club if required.  Contact us through the CSTP website.   THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUING ASSISTANCE.

27th January 2012

Dear All,


Here is an update on the CSTP, which I hope you’ll find interesting.


We are actually  making good  progress even tho’ it sometimes doesn’t fee like it, when you look at the mountains of things to do.


Couple of points:

  1. We are available to give any progress  talks that anyone wants for clubs, associations etc. Please ask if you want that.
  2. We are continuing the scale sampling next year. It has taken along time to get the samples coming in and we really need lots more for several rivers including Conwy and Clwyd.
  3. 3.       Feel free to pass this on to any other people or websites etc (our site is http://www.celticseatrout.com/about/programme.htm


Best Wishes




1.  Aim of this note

To inform fishermen of the Celtic Sea Trout Programme (CSTP) and to ask for their help in carrying it out.

2. What is the CSTP?

The programme is a collaborative effort across fishermen, conservation and regulating bodies, universities, government agencies, Trusts and clubs in Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland.  The programme is seeking funding through INTERREG IV, an EU funding mechanism, and the work is focussed on the needs of the Ireland-Wales axis. Lead agencies in the bid are the Central Fisheries Board (Ireland) and Bangor University (Wales, and the overall lead partner).

3.  Aims of the programme

The Celtic Sea Trout Programme aims are:

  • To understand and describe sea trout stocks in the Irish Sea and thereby to enhance sea trout fisheries and strengthen their contributions to quality of life, to rural economies and to national biodiversity.
  • To explore the use of sea trout life history variation as a tool to detect and understand the effects of climate change.

4.  Background

The sea trout is the sea migratory form of the brown trout and is a popular target of rod and net fisheries of rivers and coastal waters around the Irish Sea.  Adult sea trout lay their eggs in river gravels, the young stages live for 1 to 3 years in freshwater before emigrating (as smolts) to sea where they feed hard and return after  varying periods as mature adults, homing to the rivers of their birth to repeat the cycle. Thus the sea trout life cycle requires good environmental quality in freshwater, estuaries and at sea. Moreover, current understanding suggests that the incidence of sea trout and the composition and status of their stocks is sensitive to changes in the environments in which they live. These life history features and the sea trout’s widespread occurrence, makes it a unique and potentially sensitive indicator of environmental change.

However, there are major unanswered questions in the understanding of sea trout, namely:

  • where do they go at sea and how are their stocks structured and interlinked?
  • what is their marine ecology (feeding, growth, survival and life history variation)?
  • what environmental and other pressures are they exposed to?
  • how do their life histories (and thus fishery quality) respond to environmental variation?

Sea trout fisheries in parts of Western Britain, including the Irish Sea, are suffering decline; but the pattern is mixed and in most cases the causes of change and thus the solutions are poorly understood. So we need answers to the question outlined above

The CSTP intends to provide this missing knowledge and to translate it into fishery and conservation benefits for countries bordering the Irish Sea.

5.  The programme content

In summary the programme involves collection of sea trout samples from 80 rivers (of which 20 have been targeted for the detailed sampling for which we are seeking help here), estuaries, coastal waters and further offshore, over three years. The samples will be mostly of fin clips and scales accompanied by accurate size information; but whole fish will also be taken to examine feeding and other aspects of biology.

The samples will be processed to describe stock structures and distributions (using micro-chemistry and genetics), life histories, growth and survival (from scale analysis) and feeding. From these data and reviews of the fisheries and freshwater trout production a picture will be assembled of the quality and quantity of sea trout stocks and fisheries around the Irish Sea. Various modelling approaches will be used to pull this information together to show the interactions between stocks, fisheries and the environment at sea and in freshwater, and thus to help to explore management options.

6.  What help is required

Collecting fish, scales and size data from 20 rivers in sufficient numbers (300+ per river over two years) and, importantly, in a scientifically unbiased way is a tall order. The CSTP proposal includes a sampling programme by the participating agencies. However, it also crucially needs the participation and help of fishermen, mainly anglers fishing in rivers, but also netsmen in specific areas. We need fishermen to collect scales and take length measurements from sea trout that they catch, systematically, i.e. as far as possible from all fish sizes and spread throughout the angling season. The fish do not need to be killed; scales can be taken harmlessly from fish and with care fish can be measured safely and accurately. In principle this is straightforward, but there are some significant points to note.

  • The data collected MUST be reliable.
  • The lengths need to be accurate and measured in the same way by different people.
  • Scales need to be taken from the same location on the fishes’ flanks (see guidance sheet) and no cross contamination of scales must occur
  • Many sea trout are taken at night and many are to be returned alive and safe to the water. This brings some practical problems which are surmountable, but at some (small) cost to fishing time.
  • From the above it can be seen that the best way to achieve the programme’s aims will be to secure the help from individuals or small groups of anglers who are willing to be committed and prepared to take the samples in the required way.

Detailed procedures and equipment (very simple!) will be made available and a small element of training or discussion with the programme organisers will be needed to ensure that data and information quality are consistently high. Advice and practical support will be given throughout to any individuals or groups. This note is to prompt interest, feedback and offers of participation from anglers, clubs, syndicates or individuals.

7. What you get

Full feedback of the analyses of any samples you provide. Regular updates of the overall programme. Satisfaction at having made a personal, practical contribution towards improving sea trout understanding and fisheries for yourself, others and future generations.

As recommendations get taken up in due course: improved, better protected and managed sea trout fisheries.

8.  Provisional Timetable

Start of programme:  May 2009

End of sampling programme: October 2011.

End of CSTP: April 2012

9. Contacts

The overall CSTP sampling Coordinator is Dr Paddy Gargan, Central Fisheries Board (tel: 0876468611).

Local CSTP contacts for particular rivers are shown on the attached sheet.  These people will be available to help in advice, equipment and training and to give talks or ad hoc assistance to groups or individuals as required.

CSTP contacts on rivers for detailed sampling.

Region/Country River CSTP contacts
Ireland Dee (White River) Paddy Gargan (0876468611) or Willie Roche (0876620479)










Wales Tawe Graeme Harris (01874 731175 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              01874 731175      end_of_the_skype_highlighting) / Rob Evans (EA Cardiff) (02920 466155)






Dwyfawr Rob Evans (EA Bangor)  (01248 484130)
Conwy and Clwyd Nigel Milner (07712 038674)
Dee Ian Davidson (EA Buckley (01244894520)
Northern Ireland Moneycarragh Richard Kennedy (AFBI) (02820731435)
Shimna Richard Kennedy (AFBI)
White Water Paddy Boylan (Loughs Agency) (04470017414116)
England Border Esk (England) Andy Gowans (EA) (01768 215841) See also Scotland
Ehen Ben Bayliss (EA) (01768 21557)
Lune Brian Shields (EA) (01925 542660)
Scotland Border Esk (Scotland) Iain Bell (Beuccleuch Est.) (013873 81951)
Annan Nick Chisholm (ADSFB (07710331079)
Nith Jim Henderson (NDSFB) (01387 740043)
Cree Jamie Ribbens (GFT) (016714030111)
Fleet Jamie Ribbens (GFT) (016714030111)
Isle of Man Neb Karen McHarg (DAFF) (01624 686044)
Sulby Karen McHarg (DAFF) (01624 686044)