May 2024

Fourth International Symposium on the Future of Atlantic Salmon May – 2024

 Speakers and Panel members 

Prof Alison Baker, Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST) 

Alison Baker is a well-known and respected figure in the fisheries management world, having worked for ten years on the conservation of the aquatic environment regionally within the Central Belt of Scotland. Previously she was the Clerk of the Forth District Salmon Fishery Board and Director of the Forth Rivers Trust, developing both organisations to deliver impactful projects and partnerships to enhance the catchment’s rivers and lochs. The Forth Rivers Trust under her leadership grew significantly, supporting not only the much-needed improvements required to the environment, but also staff and local skills needed to deliver the work. 

As Restoration Director for the Atlantic Salmon Trust, Alison acts as a link between our evidence gathering research, and management action on the ground, working with a range of partners; local, regional, national and international, to support and advise them as they implement management solutions. 

Prof Bengt Finstad, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim

Professor Bengt Finstad’s areas of work include ecophysiology, aquaculture, smolt production/release of fish, fish welfare/stress, pollution and other human impacts, salmonids in the sea, fish diseases-parasites and biotelemetry. Finstad has a PhD in fish physiology from NTNU and worked as a senior researcher at NINA thereafter. Finstad has published more than 140 peer-reviewed publications so far. He has participated as a member of the Norwegian Scientific Council for Salmon Management and in the expert group – salmon lice and production zones in Norway as well as participation in ICES and EUWGTRUTTA. He is also group leader for the Marine Section at NTNU Sealab and NTNU Trondheim Biological Station. 

The secret life of sea lice – a nuisance for fish and people – Bengt Finstad, NTNU. 

Professor Bengt Finstad will give a presentation concerning sea lice biology and the physiological effects of sea lice on salmonids. Further, field studies for sampling fish in the wild for monitoring sea lice effects on salmonid species will be presented – data from both Norway and Iceland. Studies showing the effects of sea lice on salmonid populations, return rates and fish behaviour will also be introduced. An overview of the Norwegian “Traffic Light System” for regulating fish farming in Norway will be given and the presentation will introduce new methods to combat sea lice in fish farms based on the Norwegian experience. 

Chris Conroy BSc (Hons) MSc MIFM, Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST)

Chris is the Technical Project Manager for Project Laxford, a partnership between Grosvenor’s Reay Forest Estate and the Atlantic Salmon Trust. He has over 25 years’ experience working in fisheries science and management across the public, private and charitable sectors. Previously, Chris was River Director for the Ness District Salmon Fishery Board, a statutory body responsible for the protection and enhancement of salmon and sea trout populations across the Ness system. Prior to this, he provided specialist advice relating to fisheries and biodiversity for the Environment Agency in England. 

Project Laxford – a catchment scale salmon restoration project in Northwest Scotland – Chris Conroy, AST 

Chris will describe the identification and assessment of factors limiting salmon and sea trout production in the River Laxford, situated in the NW Highlands of Scotland. He will discuss targeted management actions to restore the ecosystem and provide the best possible conditions for fish to thrive. He will then describe how these management actions will be assessed over time using robust science and up-to-date monitoring techniques. 

Gísli Ásgeirsson, Six Rivers Iceland (SRI) 

Gisli, CEO of Six Rivers Iceland, has been leading the charge in safeguarding the Atlantic Salmon population since 2017, supported by Sir James Arthur Ratcliffe. With a background deeply rooted in the rivers of NE Iceland as a guide, river keeper, and conservation activist, Gisli brings a wealth of experience to the table. 


SRI history, local economy, lodge building and their future use – Gísli Ásgeirsson, SRI. 

From conservation activism to sustainable river management practices, Six Rivers Iceland is committed to ensuring the long-term survival of the Atlantic Salmon population. Join us as we explore the holistic approach taken by Six Rivers Iceland in this vital conservation endeavour. 

In this talk, we delve into the multifaceted efforts of Six Rivers Iceland in protecting the Atlantic Salmon. The challenges are vast and intricate, requiring a comprehensive approach. Gisli will provide a brief yet comprehensive overview of the organization’s strategies and initiatives. 

Dr Guðni Guðbergsson, Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) 

Head of Freshwater and Aquaculture Division, Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Hafnarfjörður, Iceland. Cand. Scient in freshwater biology from the University of Oslo 1985. Worked at the Institute of Freshwater Fisheries in Reykjavik as a senior scientist and project leader from 1985 and head of the division of fish resources 2004-2016. Head of the

Freshwater Division of the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) in Iceland from 2016 to 2022 and head of the Freshwater and Aquaculture Division from 2022 to present time. Member og the ICES Working Group on North Atlantic Salmon (WGNAS) from 1996. Member of the Scientific Advisory committee in NASCO 2003-2009. Member of the Icelandic NASCO delegation 2008 and head of the Icelandic delegation in NASCO 2009. Steering Group member of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Diversity Program (CBMP) of CAFF 2013-2017. Lecturer at the University of Iceland and the Agricultural Collage. Supervisor/co-supervisor to 5 masters students. Main work on all the three freshwater salmonid species in Iceland, Atlantic salmon, brown trout and Arctic charr. Published 36 papers on Atlantic salmon and Arctic charr and over 250 technical and advisory reports. 

Dr Hlynur Bárðarson, Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) 

Hlynur is a senior scientist at the Freshwater  and Aquaculture Division of the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) in Iceland and from 2017 he has been leading the annual monitoring surveys of the salmon stocks in Northeast Iceland, including the rivers in the Six Rivers Project. Hlynur is also a member of the ICES working group on North Atlantic salmon (WGNAS) and was recently nominated by Iceland as a member of the Scientific Advisory Group to NASCO.

Salmon stocks in trends in Iceland, MFRI work in NE Iceland – Dr Hlynur Bárðarson, MFRI.

The MFRI has been monitoring salmon populations of the rivers in Northeast Iceland since 1979. The monitoring surveys have given valuable insight into the life cycle and the variable environmental conditions that these salmon populations need to face. This talk will give a short overview of the status of the stocks in Iceland with a focus on the stocks and the ecology of the rivers included in the Six Rivers Project. 

Hrafnkatla Eiríksdóttir, Six Rivers Iceland (SRI)

Hrafnkatla is the Forestry project manager at Six Rivers Iceland. Holding a degree in Nature- and Environmental Science, her aim is to explore ways to use forestry in ways to help natural and native looking ecosystems form.


Six Rivers Iceland – tree planting programme – Hrafnkatla Eiríksdóttir, SRI 

Short overview of the forestry project at Six Rivers Iceland where we introduce you to the aim of our project.  With a focus on habitat quality and biodiversity, we aim to strengthen the terrestrial ecosystems that are crucial to the salmon populations. Join our talk to learn more about the vital role of forestry in ensuring the sustainability of our salmon. 

Dr Kjetil Hindar, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) 

Kjetil is a senior research scientist at NINA in Trondheim, Norway, where he was a research director 2010-2018. He has 35 years’ experience working on the genetics and ecology of Atlantic salmon and other salmonids. His focus is on the effects of escaped farmed salmon wild salmon, and on setting spawning targets for Norway’s salmon populations. In 2020, Kjetil led a risk assessment of pink salmon for Norway.


Escaped farmed salmon and genetic introgression in Norway – Dr Kjetil Hindar, NINA. 

This talk describes the monitoring of escaped farmed salmon from 1989 and the genetic impacts of escaped farmed on wild salmon populations. Two-thirds of Norway’s wild salmon populations are now impacted genetically by farmed escapes. Factors explaining the distribution of escapes and genetic impacts will be related to the situation in Iceland.  

Pink Salmon in Norway – Dr Kjetil Hindar, NINA 

Pink salmon may be a climate-change winner. Its abundance in the North Atlantic exploded in 2017 when pink salmon was found from North Norway to France, and from Iceland to Newfoundland. Pink salmon abundance increased 20-fold from 2017 to 2023 in Norway. Pink salmon affects Atlantic salmon by aggressive behaviour, competition among juveniles and disease transmission. Effects increase by their numbers.

Dr Rasmus Lauridsen, Six Rivers Iceland (SRI) 

Rasmus is a freshwater ecologist interested in improving our understanding river ecosystems. With a PhD in stream food webs looking at what happens when we introduce new resources at the bottom of the food web or increase the number of predators near the top of the food web. More recently Rasmus has worked on the importance of habitat and the impact thereof on survival and life history choices of salmon and trout using of tagging technologies. 


Status of Atlantic salmon around the North Atlantic – Dr Rasmus Lauridsen, SRI. 

The stock of Atlantic salmon has declined dramatically in the last four decades and our best estimate is that the number of salmon in the Atlantic Ocean is now less than half what it was in the 1980s despite a huge reduction in marine harvest of the species.

Prioritisation of conservation efforts based on river potential – Dr Rasmus Lauridsen, SRI 

Six Rivers Iceland is working towards understanding what governs the population dynamics of Atlantic salmon population in rivers in NE Iceland. By improving our understanding of factors limiting the freshwater stage of Atlantic salmon in NE Iceland we can target our conservation efforts to optimise the benefits for Atlantic salmon and the ecosystem within which they live. 

Stefán Hrafnsson, Six Rivers Iceland (SRI) 

Stefán Hrafnsson, has a BA degree in tourism studies lives and lives in Vopnafjörður. Stefán has undertaken conservation work for Six Rivers Iceland since 2019. Stefán has been a salmon and trout fishing guide for over 20 years in Northeast Iceland and has been fascinated by nature especially freshwater fish since he was a child and feels privileged for the work that he is involved in.  


In-river conservation work at Six Rivers Iceland – Stefán Hrafnsson, SRI 

Six Rivers Iceland has many ongoing conservation projects. These projects include research, radio tagging, pest control, relocation of salmon, egg planting, fish barriers, opening up new habitat areas for salmon and fish barriers. These projects will be presented, what we have done and what we have learnt.