The very successful ‘Salmon Hatchery in Classroom Project’ is now under way in nine primary schools across the Lower Bann region.
The project is funded by The Honourable The Irish Society and administered by local angling consultant, Mark Patterson.
The project which is designed for Primary 6/7 pupils has been running since 2007 and is a cross-community project with schools working together. This year, the schools involved include Kilrea Primary and St. Columba’s Primary, Kilrea; Portglenone Primary and St Mary’s Primary, Portglenone; Killowen Primary and St John’s Primary, Coleraine; St John’s Primary, Swatragh; and New Road Primary and Castledawson Primary both in Castledawson.
The pupils, under the guidance of Mark Patterson, set up a mini hatchery in the classroom with 100 salmon eggs. The children then learn about the life cycle of the salmon and all the problems the salmon face in the wild – such as over-fishing, environmental destruction and pollution. After about six to eight weeks, the salmon fry are released by the children into a local stream – in total about 800 salmon fry are normally released into various Lower Bann tributaries. A visit to Bushmills Salmon Hatchery is also arranged for each school, to see a commercial hatchery on a large scale.
Edward Montgomery, The Honourable The Irish Society said: “We are delighted to be involved in such an interesting and practical environmental project. The children are made aware of the various environmental problems encountered by wild salmon such as pollution, over-fishing, predation and the destruction of their habitat by human activity. As custodians of the fishing rights on the River Bann, the Society is keen to involve future generations in understanding the importance of good management of the river system and the potential enjoyment of salmon fishing.
“We are indebted to Mark Patterson, who every year makes this a great project for the schools to be involved in.”
Mark Patterson said :“I must thank The Honourable The Irish Society for their continued support which allows me to deliver this super hands on science project to hundreds of children. The project fits well with the NI schools curriculum and all the schools taking part enjoy the new learning experience.”