School visits salmon hatchery

Pupils from St.Patrick’s and St.Brigid’s PS, Ballycastle, recently enjoyed a visit in their local environment to develop their project on “Endangered species on our shore”.

Following on from their successful visit to Portaferry Aquarium the children stayed closer to home with their next trip.

Ballycastle salmon hatchery is situated in Glenshesk opposite the entrance to Ballycastle forest.

Ballycastle salmon hatchery was set up in 1996 by a group of local volunteers under the leadership of Bill Williamson in association with Ballycastle Angling Club to re-establish a locally extinct salmon run.

The project aims to utilise the hatchery as an interpretation centre to educate school groups and provide extended learning to the two primary schools in Ballycastle. It is planned to extend this service to other schools nearby and to utilise this for other community groups.

The aim of the project is to educate and inspire local schoolchildren to develop a concern and sense of responsibility for their local river catchment within their local community, and to enhance curriculum learning about water catchment in the context of water framework directive.

The P7 pupils attended a winter hatchery visit in January. The children were given the opportunity to see mature salmon close up, witness the first and last stages of the salmon life cycle, and hear about all the stages in between.

They also learned about river catchments, the salmon life cycle and habitats on site. The highlight of the day was releasing a fully grown salmon back into the Margey River to continue with its journey to sea.

The children greatly enjoyed their day trip and even got a chance to practise some fly fishing with Brendan Kerr who gave an excellent presentation and really enthused the P7s.

For some children this gave them a great opportunity to showcase the fishing skills which they learnt from Brendan in the fly fishing classes he took in the school in the autumn term.

These provided an opportunity to participate in a skilled motor activity which led to further understanding of fish behaviour by seeking to imitate natural insects in their natural environment as prey items and required an understanding of fish behaviour.

Hopefully, the next generation will be inspired to continue the good work of the salmon hatchery and the future of salmon will be secured in the Moyle area.