1st International Sea Trout Symposium
- Sea trout stocks are apparently healthy in some regions, but in others there have been major collapses. The Symposium warned that continued neglect of the science and management of this species, coupled with increasing expansion of its fisheries could threaten yet another valuable natural resource.
- The Symposium concluded that governments, state agencies, fishery managers and other stakeholders should no longer take this resource for granted and strongly recommended that immediate action be taken to protect and conserve sea trout stocks throughout their geographical range.
- The Symposium noted the conservation value of sea trout. The exceptional variety of trout life histories and habitat use adds significantly to the biodiversity of many types of waters. In the case of sea trout this includes rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and a huge network of otherwise neglected small coastal streams. Sea trout populations are thus particularly valuable in assessing ecosystem health in the context of the Water Framework Directive.
- Sea trout fisheries offer socio-economic benefits that may be more widely distributed and in total may be greater than salmon, but studies and development of these have been largely ignored. It is crucial that research in this area is commissioned to encourage and inform sustainable development to maximise these benefits.
- Fishery management regulations for sea trout are poorly formulated and inadequately protective in some respects. There is a need to monitor more closely catches in all fisheries. There is a need to better control fishing in some licensed salmonid fisheries, to eliminate illegal fishing and sea trout by-catch in other coastal and estuarine fisheries, and to more effectively control the genetic and ecological risks of stocking and in particular the impacts of parasitic infestation from marine aquaculture.
- The Symposium noted the exciting new developments in sea trout related science. Genetics, population dynamics, the statistical and ecological basis of Biological Reference Points and Geographic Information Systems all offer potentially powerful and cost-effective management tools. But funding for research is quite inadequate. In particular, commitment is needed to support long-term, integrated ecosystem-based freshwater and marine studies, incorporating ecology and genetics, in order to improve understanding of the sea-going migratory habit in trout.
Nigel Milner & Graeme Harris
26th August 2004