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Marine Science



Ground-breaking primary school citizen science project in Glasgow helps inspire our salmon stewards of the future ahead of COP26.  Led by scientist, Willie Yeoman and his small team, the Clyde River Foundation (CRF) have developed an education programme to educate and inspire children about the success story of wild salmon in the River Clyde.

Salmon were associated with the establishment of the earliest settlements in Glasgow and three appear on the city’s Coat of Arms. During the Industrial Revolution, Glasgow was transformed from a small merchant town to a burgeoning industrial city. As a result of the pollution and physical alterations to the river Clyde salmon were eventually rendered locally extinct.

Working with The Missing Salmon Alliance and a global collective of salmon conservation organisations, The CRF, Missing Salmon Alliance and US initiative, Salmon School has developed and launched a youth-based citizen science project on the River Clyde where pupils will be learning about the lifecycle of salmon and collecting eDNA samples. The project will be running until the end of September to allow the results to be compiled ahead of COP26. In November, the worlds eye will be focused on Glasgow, as it hosts the COP26 climate conference.

The Clyde, and the return of the salmon, stand testament to what can be done. How, given the political will, we can listen to the warnings from science, most clearly set out in the IPCC Report, and change direction.

With this key indicator species returning to the Clyde, through the restoration work of the local youth community, this is a story of hope and also foreboding with large adult fish currently suffocating in the river due to climate change. In line with The UN Sustainable goal no. 14, salmon need cold, clean water to thrive.

Willie Yeoman, Director of the Clyde River Foundation says:

“The return of salmon to the Clyde is a powerful message and resonates with global stories of communities protecting and restoring salmon to their local rivers. We aim to create the salmon stewards of the future.”

After an overwhelming response, the Clyde River Foundation (CRF) have recruited 26 local primary schools. Each school will be invited to send a class of up to 33 10-11-year-olds for a ½ day event on the banks of their local river where they will:

• Learn about wild salmon, their lifecycle and the factors affecting them.
• Learn how to survey the habitat and fish populations of their river.
• Understand the factors affecting the watercourse and take a set of eDNA samples to establish what species are present and compare to their own survey findings.
• Be invited to connect with schools in the Pacific and Eastern seaboard of the Atlantic and represent their collective views on wild salmon, rivers and their local community at COP26.

For 20 years, the CRF have focused education as a core part of their work leading hugely successful initiatives such as Clyde in the Classroom which has now seen 35,000 children learn how to rear trout eggs in their classrooms. The focus now turns to salmon, at the heart of Glaswegian history, culture and identity and the climate change debate. A powerful story of hope and regeneration, the location of COP26 at the SEC in Glasgow on the banks of the River Clyde gives the CRF’s Missing Salmon Alliance and Salmon School project a unique opportunity to focus on the success story of the many aspects of what has happened on the River Clyde in the last 50 years in relation to wild salmon restoration, inspiring a new generation of salmon stewards.

Information gathered from this initial pilot of the Missing Salmon Alliance, the CRF and Salmon School will be used to inform the launch of a global citizen science project.