Merging science and traditions helps improve the future management of Atlantic salmon fisheries in the Barents region


Scientists, managers and commercial fishermen from Northern Norway, Finland and north-west Russia, White Sea area combined their efforts in the Kolarctic salmon project (2011-2013), with the aim of providing a better knowledge-base for the countries salmon management. Within this joint and unique effort bio-specimen were sampled along the North-Norwegian coast and in Russian Barents and White Seas generating the most comprehensive ecological and genetic datasets for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

In more detail, the project provided comprehensive information on the salmon rivers and populations in the area including genetic diversity which allowed for estimating the stock of origin for each sampled salmon from the sea. This in turn facilitated stock composition examination of mixed stock fishery catches as well as inference of spatial and temporal migratory patterns for the largest salmon stocks. Overall the results provide opportunities for developing knowledge-based adaptive management regimes for coastal salmon fisheries. In addition, the action facilitated a better understanding of the rich fishing traditions, coastal and Sami culture of the area and will hopefully contribute to preserve the highly important regional and local socio-economy with regards to salmon and salmon fisheries.

The projects final reports provide comprehensive and detailed information on:

  • The genetic structure (genetic map) of salmon from northern Europe and Russian Barents and White Sea area • Detailed information on the home river/ -region of individual salmon caught in the coastal fishery
  • Region- and stock-specific catch of salmon along the North-Norwegian coast • Spatial and temporal migratory patterns for salmon stocks in the project area
  • Temporal and spatial incidence of escaped salmon in the coastal catches
  • Descriptions of northern salmon stock ecology, management regimes and effects of salmon and climate change
  • New knowledge to assist a more precise and informed regulatory measures in the Barents Sea area, in the future
  • Tools for management authorities on how to ensure a future sustainable exploitation of the northernmost Atlantic salmon populations in Europe

Read more about the project and its results:

Atlantic salmon has the propensity to return to natal river to reproduce, a behavior known as homing. Because of this accurate natal homing, salmon inhabiting different rivers are largely reproductively isolated from each other. Colonization patterns after the last glaciation, evolutionary processes and the reproductive isolation have resulted in accumulation of significant genetic variation among salmon populations in different rivers. The genetic differences that can be observed between populations, and geographic regions, in effect provide a genetic “tag” enabling inference of river or region of origin for salmon caught in the sea.

Results from the DNA analysis has provide genetic tags for individual stocks and assist in tracing the river of origin of individual salmon caught along the coast. It also facilitated the creation a unique gene map of the northern salmon stocks. Baseline populations were grouped into 155 river - based and 9 regional reporting groups that were determined primarily by the relative genetic similarity among populations according to phylogenetic and genetic structure analyses and according to management priorities. Read more here.

Find 9 regional reporting groups that were determined primarily by the relative genetic similarity among populations according to phylogenetic and genetic structure analyses here: