CONSERVATION REARING PROGRAM
The ‘Old Hatchery’ Derriana
The ‘Old Hatchery’, was originally built in 1986 with the intention of being used as a sea trout hatchery. It quickly became apparent that this program was not successfully achieving the original aim of Sea Trout conservation. Subsequently it was used as an Atlantic Salmon hatchery on an intermittent basis until it was taken over by volunteers in 2010, prior to the creation of the Waterville Lakes and Rivers Trust and repurposed as a Salmon conservation rearing unit.
It is now used as a base for the work of the trust, an education exhibiton and a research project to enable better understanding of the of the different life histories of salmon in the the Cummeragh catchment.
The Building itself is situated on the Upper Cummeragh, a few hundred metres from its outlet on Lough Derriana.
As it has been in only intermittent use over the last few years and it is now in need of refurbishment and improvement in order to properly facilitate our new Conservation Rearing Program. This will involve the overhaul of the rearing troughs and tanks and replacement of pipework. It is also the intention to create a small AV Room, with appropriate updated equipment, to allow further expansion of our education programmes.
How the Conservation Rearing unit operates:
In early December each year we catch up a small number of salmon, from the Cummeragh River, with the assistance of Inland Fisheries Ireland. These fish are held in the tanks until they are ready to spawn. They are then artificially stripped of their roe and milt and the eggs placed in the hatching trays. The eggs hatch out in late February /March and provide the parr stock for our program.
Prior to their release into the catchment hatchery reared salmon parr are tagged, by ‘clipping’ their adipose fin. This allows us to identify “hatchery reared” fish as they return to the lakes and rivers in subsequent years. This is the basis for one of our research projects. (You can read more about this in our research section!)
Even at a very modest scale the conservation rearing of salmon parr is helping to mitigate against the loss of salmon smolts as they migrate out from the catchment and through the curtain of sea lice from the Deenish Salmon Farm. (estimated by the scientists to account for an over 30% fatality in those smolts).