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Atlantic salmon – pressures on marine environments

Up to NOK 21 million is available to establish a knowledge platform to better understand ecological conditions for wild Atlantic salmon at sea. This is a joint call for proposals between the MILJØFORSK, MARINFORSK and HAVBRUK2 programmes to fund one project of outstanding scientific merit.

Researcher project Choose
06.09.2017 13:00 CEST


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Amount of funding presumed available for this call for proposals:

The Research Council of Norway is announcing up to NOK 21 million for a Researcher Project. Funding is expected to be awarded to one project with a timeframe of three to four years.

Guidelines and important considerations relevant to all types of applications in this call for proposals:

The Norwegian-language call for proposals is the legally binding version.

Objective of this call for proposals

  • To establish a knowledge platform for enhancing knowledge about Atlantic salmon during the marine phase.
  • Identify important pressures affecting survival, including how these change over time and vary from one year to another.
  • Greater knowledge about how various factors lead to overall pressures on the survival of wild salmon at sea.
  • The project should make good use of existing material and data, ongoing activities and other resources.

Background for the funding announcement

Although much research has been carried out on wild salmon over the past decades, understanding of wild salmon at sea remains limited. Research results thus far, summarised among other places in a March 2016 report published by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), indicate that marine mortality in the wild is high (95 per cent or higher) and that the evident increasing marine mortality rates in recent years are likely due in part to large-scale oceanographic changes. The report cites a number of knowledge gaps, including the need to identify and quantify factors influencing marine mortality of Atlantic salmon.

In light of this report, the Research Council, at the initiative of the MILJØFORSK, HAVBRUK and MARINFORSK programmes, hosted a meeting with relevant Norwegian research groups in August 2016 to clarify the status and research needs regarding wild salmon marine mortality.

Topics the knowledge platform should address

More knowledge is needed on the following topics, among others:

  • Where are wild salmon distributed in their various life stages in coastal areas and at sea?
  • What are the physical and biological conditions for wild salmon during their marine phase, and how are these affected by other species and ecosystem changes, including climate change?
  • How is wild salmon’s access to food during their marine phase? How does this change throughout the day, seasonally, and year to year?
  • What are the effects of predation on salmon in fjords, coastal areas and at sea?
  • How do various mortality factors change from year to year and in a longer-term perspective?
  • Are significant numbers of wild salmon taken as by-catch in pelagic fisheries?

Research is needed in a number of areas to achieve greater understanding of the factors that influence salmon marine survival. It is important to identify salmon migration patterns to learn more about the environmental conditions they encounter. In addition to the biological factors such as access to food and the presence of predators, more knowledge is needed about effects of oceanographic changes on survival and migration patterns. Little is known about the mechanisms for variation in marine mortality from year to year.

The various marine pressures on wild salmon do not act in isolation. Factors may be directly correlated with others, so that a change in one factor leads to changes in another. In such cases it will often be difficult to define which of the factors have impacts on wild salmon. Furthermore the various pressures often have additive or reinforcing effects on one another. For this reason it is considered essential that the knowledge platform sought includes multiple relevant Norwegian research institutions with access to a variety of resources. Different environmental pressures at different developmental stages in salmon may also interact, making it difficult to differentiate between the environmental pressures in early life stages, from egg fertilisation in the riverbed to smolt arriving in marine feeding areas to the purely marine phase. This call is also open to research on where pressures on early life stages of salmon interact with marine pressures, but the main focus of the project should be on factors in the marine environment.

General requirements and guidelines

  • Projects that make good use of existing material and data and current activities will be viewed in a positive light.
  • Researcher recruitment is crucial. Applicants are encouraged to incorporate doctoral fellowships and post-doctoral fellowships into their grant proposals.
  • Assuming all factors relating to scientific merit are essentially equal, priority will be given to projects led by women project managers.