Sperrins Gateway

Local pupils get close to nature through Salmon in the Classroom programme

Tuesday, 8 March, 2016

Sperrins Gateway Landscape Partnership’s (SGLP) highly successful ‘Salmon in the Classroom’ programme continued last week as pupils from across Mid Ulster joined them for the release of 100s of salmon fry at tributaries of the Moyola and Ballinderry Rivers.

The releases are the latest stage in the exciting Heritage Lottery Fund NI funded environmental and educational programme which has seen students from Kilronan School, Churchtown PS, Knocknagin PS, Desertmartin PS and St Mary’s PS in Draperstown receive mini hatching stations and salmon or dollaghan trout eggs to hatch in their classrooms.

With the six-week incubation period successfully completed, Sperrins Gateway Staff and volunteers from Moyola Angling Association brought the pupils and their teachers to a number of local sites to release the salmon fry into their natural habitat. It is hoped that these baby fish will grow into healthy adults and in years to come make their way out into the Atlantic Ocean before returning to these local rivers to spawn.

The pupils also took part in a kick sampling exercise where they identified the invertebrate bugs and insects that live in the river and checked how healthy the local river systems are.

The final stage of this year’s ‘Salmon in the Classroom’ programme will take place in June when SGLP invites all of the pupils involved to accompany them on a fact-finding mission to the Salmon Research Centre in Bushmills where they will learn more about the huge role they can play in protecting native species and the waterways they inhabit.

Speaking at the release, Fiona Bryant, Manager of the Sperrins Gateway Landscape Partnership, said:

“Salmon in the Classroom is an enjoyable part of our work but it is also very important as it helps educate young people on the vital role we all have to play in local conservation and looking after our rivers and all the species that live in them.

“Year on year we have been overwhelmed by the appetite for this subject and we are delighted to see the huge interest in it from the pupils and the positive feedback we receive from the schools.

“It allows the children a great opportunity to get hands-on with nature and in doing so they learn so much more and develop a much greater understanding of local wildlife and the need to protect it and the environment around them.”

Now in its third year, Salmon in the Classroom promotes the many benefits that result from protecting and properly managing river systems, from biodiversity to clean drinking water, tourism and leisure activities.  

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