Current Projects

Research Projects 2020


Please visit the Atlantic Salmon Trust website for details of some very exciting new projects we are currently planning and developing for the coming year.    These include Year 2 of the Moray Firth Tracking Project ( ) and the West Coast Tracking Project ( ).

With the support of the Missing Salmon Alliance, the Likely Suspects Framework team have made impressive progress in implementing the goals of the project.  Drawing on existing data resources ,from a multitude of sources, the team aims to describe the mechanisms behind changes in the salmon’s ecosystem at key points in the life cycle where survival fluctuates. By interrogating the mechanisms influencing salmon stocks in the past, they hope to understand current and future drivers of change and protect wild salmon (

Recent Projects

eDNA – environmental DNA

eDNA – environmental DNA

adminDecember 4, 20202 min read

Environmental DNA ( eDNA), is DNA that is collected from a variety of environmental samples such as water, soil, snow etc., rather than directly sampled from an individual organism. As various organisms…

Natural Resources Wales – Inshore Tracking of Migratory Fish Species

Natural Resources Wales – Inshore Tracking of Migratory Fish Species

adminDecember 2, 20201 min read

I’m currently working with colleagues from AST, Swansea University and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, on a review for Natural Resources Wales of tracking options to monitor key migratory…

River Rehabilitation

River Rehabilitation

adminDecember 1, 20201 min read

River Rehabilitation My advisory work continues on the Rivers Dodder and Bandon, where major flood relief works have recently been completed.  Hopefully high water levels will help to “bed in”…

Water Resources Management Training – Louth Leader Partnership

Water Resources Management Training – Louth Leader Partnership

adminDecember 22, 20191 min read

My colleague Martin McGarrigle ( ) and I have now completed the training and field components of the Water Resources Management Training Programme which was funded by Louth Leader Partnership…

Older Projects

International Year of the Salmon

Atlantic Salmon Trust Projects: Working on various aspects of the Likely Suspects Framework and Moray Firth Tracking Projects. Also working with colleagues in Europe and North America preparing for the International Year of the salmon (2019)


IYS Conferences: Currently preparing presentations for meetings of the European Marine Biological Association (August 2019) and NASCO (June 2019) – Managing the Atlantic salmon in a rapidly changing environment – management challenges and possible responses – 3rd & 4th June 2019, Scandic Ishavshotel, Tromsø, Norway

Office of Public Works: Post Flood Relief Scheme – supervised river rehabilitation works on the Lower River Dodder (Phase 2 – July August 2018)

Currently Working with Byrne Looby Consultant Engineers as a fisheries advisor on river rehabilitation works on the River Bandon, County, Cork, Post Flood Relief Scheme Works.

Waterville Lakes and Rivers Trust – completed a stream survey of the Lough Currane catchment and advised on a river rehabilitation programme (October 2018)

AST Small Streams Characterisation System (SSCS) and the Freshwater Detective Training Programmes (FWD): Delivered a series of SSCS and FWD training courses for bodies such as: Teagasc, Local Authority Waters Programme, Maigue Trust, Lough Corrib Trout Angling Federation, Friends of the Camac, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Further training courses planned for the Oughterard Anglers and Boatman’s Association, the Ballinderry Trust, Friends of the Camac and the Dodder Action Group in spring 2019.

Angling Courses – with Jason O’Riordan: We again ran a series of increasingly popular salmon, sea trout and bass angling courses over 2018. A full series of further courses are planned for 2019.

Loughs Agency, Derry / Londonderry: Carried out work on a court case relating to a major pollution incident in Northern Ireland (March to September 2018)

Pike Fly Fishing Competition – Lough Erne: Mick Walton Perpetual Trophy – Fly Fishing for Pike in Ireland – Upper Lough Erne – Sunday 3rd November: Luke Murphy and I were delighted to share the Mick Walton Perpetual Trophy, fished on Upper Lough Erne in early November. Our best three fish total was 248cm and my best fish was a real beauty of 93cm. Thanks to Mark Walton and Stuart Wylie who did an excellent job organising what was a most enjoyable competition.

Aquaculture Licencing Review Group

Appointment to the Aquaculture Licensing Review Group 

I’m pleased to confirm that I’ve recently been appointed to the Aquaculture Licensing Review Group by Minister Michael Creed TD, I’m greatly looking forward to working with my colleagues Mary Moylan and Lorcan O’Cinneide in completing the review.

Review and Assessment of the Fishery Management Options for the Mulcair River, County Limerick

ESB have requested me to carry out an independent review of fishery management options for the Mulcair River. I plan to provide ESB with a full report before the end of January 2017.

Vartry River, Co Wicklow

I just completed a report for the Vartry Anglers Conservation Club on the impact of a planned development by Irish Water of the Roundwood Water Treatment Plant on the migratory fish species of the river. My report is part of a large portfolio of documents provided to An Bord Pleanala to object to the planning permission recently granted by Wicklow County Council for the development.

Atlantic Salmon Trust (

The team at AST are very busy at present preparing a series of major events to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Trust in 2017. These include a major smolt conference in Berwick on Tweed in March, a salmon conference in London in May, our celebratory Gala Dinner,  also in May and the preparation of a new 10 year science plan and a revised and updated aquaculture policy. We will also be launching the AST Small Streams Characterisation System early in the New Year. Watch out shortly for the launch of the new AST website.

Rio Petrohue and Rio Puelo, X Region de Los Lagos, Chile

I’m recently returned from Chile where, with my colleague Sandra Bravo and her team from the Universidad Austral de Chile, we worked on developing a model to underpin the development of sustainable sport fisheries on these two important rivers. We are particularly interested in encompassing in the model the effects of the recent Calbuco volcanic eruption (2015) and the effects of the invasive diatom, Didymo on the Puleo system. I hope to have my contracted report completed by mid-January.

River Backwater Catchment Trust – River Surveys

Mountain Water – Co Monaghan

I’m currently working with the River Blackwater Catchment Trust and the Blackwater Regional Partnership on a major survey of the Mountain Water, near Emycale, Co Monaghan. I completed the initial survey just prior to Christmas and we have planned further work for late spring and early summer. The Mountain Water drains the foot hills of Sliabh Beagh, which straddles the borders of several counties: Monaghan, Tyrone and Fermanagh. Plans are afoot to seek further funding for conservation projects on the unique dystrophic lakes and rivers located on or adjacent to the mountain (

Water Craft and Angling Courses

Currently I’m designing and running a series of angling / water craft courses with my good friend Jason O’Riordan ( ). We held the first of these at Courtlough Fishery near Balbriggan ( in mid-January. We have our first rivers and streams course planned for Sunday, 26th April on the River Annalee, Ballyhaise, Co Cavan. It is being run in conjunction with the Cavan Anglers Club.

See my blog, on this site, for details of booking etc  –

Cheshire West and Chester Council – River Dee Hydroelectric Proposal

My colleague Alan Sullivan and I were commissioned in 2013 by Cheshire West and Chester Council to carry out a Phase I Scoping Study to assess the environmental impact of a proposed Hydro Electric Development at Chester Weir on the River Dee. This work was completed in August 2013. In the autumn of 2013 we were contracted to provide a RIBA Stage II conceptual design to the Council a concept design for a fish pass and monitoring station at the proposed hydro installation adjacent to Chester Weir.  This work was completed in March 2014.

Galway Fly Fair

Galway Fly Fair – 15th and 16th November

I’m really looking forward to the Galway Fly Fair where I’ll be describing my recent visit to the Kola Peninsula, courtesy of PINRO, the Polar Research Institute ( and the Atlantic Salmon Reserve ( ) . In addition to the famous, world class salmon fishing, these remote catchments hold phenomenal stocks of other game fish species: brown trout, sea trout & charr. See: , for more details. I will also have signed copies of, Nomads of the Tides: Fishing for Irish Sea-Trout, available at the show.

Training and Teaching

My popular Freshwater Detective course is ongoing in UCD at present and other courses are planned for spring of 2015. I hope to have more details available on these new courses over the next few weeks. With my friend Jason O’Riordan (Facebook:, I’m currently planning a range of one day courses covering river craft, matching the hatch and associated trout angling techniques. These will be available on a number of well-known fisheries during the off season. More news on this over the coming weeks.

Pelagic Advisory Council –

Again though my work with AST, I’ve been liaising with the Pelagic AC for a number of years. In 2014 AST was invited to become a full member of the Council. We have recently applied for membership of the Executive Committee and look forward to working with our colleagues in establishing the eDNA salmon by-catch project described below.

AST Pelagic By-Catch Project

The AST team and our scientist colleagues have been worried for some time that there may be accidental killing of salmon by pelagic trawlers at sea during migrations from and to their rivers of origin. The Atlantic Ocean SALSEA project confirmed the presence of salmon among catches of other pelagic species, such as mackerel and herring. The extent of such catches is not known, but it is certain that accidental by-catch does take place, probably in many parts of the Atlantic Ocean, including the Barents, Norwegian and North seas, as well as in the European western approaches. Further details on this novel project, based on emerging, state-of the art eDNA technology can be found at the above website.

AST Small Streams Training Manual

Through my work with the Atlantic Salmon Trust and Dr Martin McGarrigle of Limnos Consultancy, I’ve been involved in the publication of a training manual to support the assessment and characterisation of small trout streams. The manual is specifically geared towards the lay person and will, we are sure, help to encourage the conservation and protection of these vitally important aquatic arteries. Partners in the project include: the River Annan Trust & District Salmon Fishery Board and the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership. See the AST website for regular updates on the planned roll out of the programme.

Forthcoming Publications

Watch out for two new publications which may be of interest and which will be published shortly:

Jensen, A. and Gilbey, J. et al. (2014) Increased understanding of the marine life of a migratory fish gained by combining data on an individual’s ecology and genetic assignment. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B.

Whelan, K. (2014) Sea-Trout Populations in Small Coastal Streams. Biology and Environment. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy.

New Pike Book – with my good friends Marc O Regan ( ) and Walter Pfeiffer (, I’m currently planning a new book on pike in the great Irish loughs. We are in discussions with Medlar Press at present and hope to announce details of this exciting new publication shortly. The book will include sections on: the history of pike angling in Ireland, pike biology, behaviour and a range of lough-specific angling techniques.
Chester Weir

Over the past year my colleague Alan Sullivan and I compiled a scoping study for Chester and Cheshire West Borough Council on the potential environmental impacts arising from the planned replacement of an old hydro unit, adjacent to Chester Weir, with Archimedes Screw turbines. We also completed a RIBA 2 Concept Design for a fish pass and fish trapping facility, associated with the planned insertion of the new hydro system.

Nomads of the Tides–Whelan.html

A new book on sea trout fishing in Ireland, both in fresh water and at sea. Nomads was published in November 2013 and has received excellent reviews to date –

Celebrating Irish Salmon –

I was part of a team which recently published a new and very well received recipe book celebrating the cooking of Irish salmon, in all of its varied forms.  My role was to work with the publishers and the chefs to provide a context for the various recipes and to ensure that the  reader has an appreciation of the extraordinary natural history of this unique species –

Atlantic Salmon Lost at Sea

I’m currently working with the producer Deirdre Brennan to complete Éamon de Buitleár’s last film and one which was very dear to his heart. The expected launch is in autumn 2015.

DATA – Donegal Angling Tourism Alliance –

I’m currently working with Donegal Tourism Angling Alliance and Donegal Angling in developing the collective marketing group which aims to promote and deliver integrated angling holidays in this unique part of Ireland. My role relates to training and education.   I will shortly be working with the providers to brief them on the management and conservation of the angling product in Donegal, the infrastructure required to support and optimise benefits from the county’s freshwater and marine resources  and to outline emerging market opportunities and challenges.

For further updates on these and related projects see my Blog:

Chile – 2013

Visit to Chile – February / March 2013

Our project  – An economic and environmental study of  the main factors influencing the success of a planned recreational fishery for Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in Rio Palena (Region X– Northern Patagonia, Chile)is now nearing completion. I recently spent a fascinating three weeks in Chile working in the field with the team from the Instituto de Acuicultura, Universidad Austral de Chile.  Arising from my visit I plan to write a series of articles describing the current status of the aquaculture industry and its relationship with the sport fishery industry in Chile. I also plan two further articles, one on the sport fishing in the lowland areas, close to Puerto Varas and a second on fishing the Rio Palena and its tributaries, high in the Andes, close to the Argentinian border.

Watch my website for extracts from our final report later in the summer

Loire Allier Meeting – DREAL, Clermont Ferrand, France

In late March I chaired a meeting of the Loire Basin Salmon Advisory Committee in Clermont Ferrand, France. The salmon populations in the Loire Allier are amongst the most ancient in Europe and require a determined effort to protect and restore them if they are to survive the ravages of habitat degradation and climate change. This is the sixth such meeting and it is encouraging to see an upturn in the salmon returns to this iconic river. The work being undertaken by the various teams from Logrami, Onema and Conservatoire National du Saumon Sauvage is most impressive and I feel we have made real progress in recent years in quantifying the current status of the resource and in setting realistic targets for future restoration of the salmon stock.

Ireland’s Sport Fish

Following my very successful “Freshwater Detective” course, which was run by the UCD Adult Education Centre in autumn of last year, we are now planning a second course on Ireland’s Sport Fish. I’m sure this course will be of great interest to anglers, fishery managers and naturalists.  Registration for the course will open shortly but in the meantime those interested can obtain information from: or on 01 7167123.

Cheshire West and Chester Council – River Dee Hydroelectric Proposal

My colleague Alan Sullivan and I have been commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council to carry out a Phase I Scoping Study to assess the environmental impact of a proposed Hydro Electric Development at Chester Weir on the River Dee. This work will take approximately a month to complete and should ensure that the suite of environmental studies planned under Phase II of the proposed environmental impact programme provides all of the relevant information on the scale of the environmental assessments required to address the key impacts arising from the proposed project.

Celebrating Irish Salmon – has been commissioned by Artisan House Editions, Letterfrack, Connemara, to work with them on an exciting new cookery book – Celebrating Irish Salmon. The book will contain a wide range of traditional and novel salmon recipes.

China – Shantou

For further updates on these and related projects see my Blog:


Thanks to a generous travel grant from the Fishmongers Company in the UK ( I visited colleagues in Shantou University in late October 2012 to discuss novel aquaculture techniques including closed containment technologies ; novel aquaculture feeds (e.g. replacement of animal proteins and fats with plant based materials), and the progress researchers at Shantou University are making in restoration ecology, marine  environmental management and endangered marine animal conservation. I’m hoping that my visit will help to build research links between UCD ( ), AST (<>), The Freshwater Institute ( and ASF (

Farson Digital Webcams

Thirteen  cameras now live on:

Farson Digital Water Cams –

I’m  working with Farson Digital in the UK to roll out their highly successful Water Cams system on Irish rivers. All cameras are registered with Google Earth / Webcams Travel ( and are available worldwide on Google Maps. The high resolution images are refreshed at a speed of 1 frame every 5 to 10 seconds.

Watch this page and my Blog ( for regular updates on this innovative and exciting project.

Atlantic Salmon Trust

Currently serving as Research Director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust. Advising on a broad range of issues (at sea, along the coast and in freshwater) affecting the welfare of salmon and sea trout stocks throughout the UK and Ireland.

SALSEA Merge &

Co-edited the final EU Report on the FP7 funded salmon at sea programme – SALSEA Merge – see reports and support papers at the above websites

Marine and Countryside Guide Programme and

I’m currently working with Fáilte Ireland (the Irish Tourist Board), Inland Fisheries Ireland and Tralee Institute of Technology on the design and delivery of the new Marine and Countryside Guide Programme.  The first phase of this project is now completed and a review of the programme is underway. Congratulations to all of those who recently qualified as angling guides!!

France  –  Loir Allier  –

Working as an adviser with DREAL in France. In this capacity I serve as Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Loire Basin Salmon Restoration Programme. Currently working with the Scientific Committee of the LBSRP to implement the restoration of salmon runs on the Loire Allier system in France. The Loire salmon are genetically distinct and one of the most ancient salmon stocks in Europe. They are of major conservation and biodiversity importnace

Chile – River Palena  & is working as a consultant with the Universidad Austral de Chile on a 3 year project (2011 to 2014) entitled: An economic and environmental study of  the main factors influencing the success of a planned recreational fishery for Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in Rio Palena (Region X– Northern Patagonia, Chile)

UCD – adult education course

In autumn 2011 I gave a highly successful, 8 week, adult education course entitled: The Freshwater Detective. Further courses are planned in the latter half of 2012 and spring 2013. Details will be available in August from the Adult Education Centre, UCD.

UCC – salmon migration and distribution patterns   

Working with the Coastal and Marine Research Centre at UCC in designing an interpretation board for display on Spike Island,  encapsulating the life cycle, migration and distribution patterns of the Atlantic salmon.

Project completed and interpretation board now on display as part of the marine nature walk on Spike Island, Cork –

New Zealand and

I gave a series of guest lectures on the impacts of climate change on freshwater ecosystems at Auckland University and the University of Waikato in New Zealand, March 2011 and have been invited to return in 2014.  Planning is ongoing. I’m hoping to give a number of workshops on salmon at sea at the University of Otago –  and NIWA – .

RESCALE Climate Change Report

News coming soon on the publication of the RESCALE Report by the Marine Institute – Review and Simulate Climate and Catchment Responses at Burrishoole, Co Mayo