Willie Yeomans, Màiri McAllan and Joseph Rossano

 In the run up to COP26, 26 Primary Schools from across the River Clyde catchment have been participating in a youth-based citizen science project, learning about the impacts of climate change on wild Atlantic salmon. The Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, Màiri McAllan, joined staff and pupils from Underbank Primary School to celebrate this inspirational project and learn more about Salmon School.

The centre piece of Salmon School is a stunning art installation of more than 300 glass salmon by renowned artist Joseph Rossano, which will be displayed at COP26 in recognition that our iconic wild salmon are on a path to extinction. The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are creating conditions that threaten their very existence in the wild. Joseph and members of the Missing Salmon Alliance joined yesterday’s visit to discuss the Salmon School initiative and showcase examples of the beautiful glass salmon which have now been installed in the Blue Zone at COP26.

As part of the migration phase of Salmon School, the dedicated team at the Clyde River Foundation, the Missing Salmon Alliance and Salmon School, have developed and launched a youth-based citizen science project in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Pupils have been learning about the amazing lifecycle of salmon and the challenges that they face. Pupils from 26 schools across the Clyde catchment collected eDNA samples to get a better understanding of the range of species living in the River Clyde.

During yesterday’s visit, the kids shared what they had learned with the Minister and worked with Joseph to create some salmon art of their own.

Joseph Rossano, Salmon School said, “The scientist and the artist observe their surroundings, and using different tools, they both represent what they see. Giving young people an understanding of those tools and how they interact, The Salmon School encourages a next generation of environmental stewards through partnerships with organisations like the Clyde River Foundation.”

Willie Yeomans, Director of the Clyde River Foundation said, “The Clyde River Foundation has delivered Salmon School science workshops to 26 Primary Schools along the length of the River Clyde, from Leadhills to Inverkip. We were delighted to give a flavour of the workshops to the Minister today, and the children from Underbank Primary were particularly delighted to meet Joe Rossano.”

Mark Bilsby, Atlantic Salmon Trust said, “The Salmon School initiative is a wonderful way of inspiring the next generation of advocates for salmon. Salmon and other native fish species need free access to cold, clean water. If wild salmon are to be safeguarded, action is needed at significantly more pace and scale.”

Dr Alan Wells, Chief Executive of Fisheries Management Scotland said, “It was wonderful to welcome the Minister to this inspiring event. We need to redouble efforts to protect freshwater habitats, through addressing barriers to migration and providing shade from native trees. We need to improve water quantity and quality by tackling over-abstraction in our rivers, preventing pollution from sewage and agricultural run-off, and we need to reduce losses of salmon in our rivers, coastal waters, and the open ocean, through addressing the impacts of fish farming, predation, and by-catch in commercial fisheries. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government, through the wild salmon strategy to make this happen.”