This year we are in the historic city of Belfast for our 48th Annual Conference. This event is hosted by our Ireland Branch and will be held at the Hilton Belfast on the banks of the River Lagan. The branch has put together a fantastic programme of talks that incorporates sessions from both the freshwater and marine environments. Conference sessions will cover a wide range of topics over the three days including

  • Tagging and Telemetry
  • Catchment Impacts
  • Environmental Change
  • Lake Fishery Management
  • Transitional Waters
  • Catchment Management
  • Action

The conference programme can be downloaded here We will also be holding the Annual Dinner on the Tuesday evening. We are very grateful to the Belfast Harbour Masters for allowing us to use their stunning harbour offices for the evening. As always this will be an evening not to be missed. On the Wednesday evening there will be a poster and film evening at the Hilton Hotel. This is a great opportunity to socialise with fellow delegates whilst taking in the posters and enjoying a drink. This years we have two field trip options for delegates. The first trip will be to the Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative Society Ltd. At almost 400 square kilometres in surface area, Lough Neagh is the largest lake in the British Isles, and is home to commercial fisheries for eel, perch, pollan, trout, bream and roach. Delegates will be collected by coach and taken to the headquarters of the Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative Society Ltd at Toomebridge, Co Antrim. Staff of the Co-operative will give a guided tour of the Co-op’s premises and fish processing facilities, and talk about the long-standing tradition of eel and scale-fish fishing with a focus on sustainable harvest. They will discuss working with Department of Environment Agriculture & Rural Affairs (DAERA) Inland Fisheries management and Agri-food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) to inform diversification of operations toward maximising value from all species within science-based sustainable management plans. River Flow conditions permitting the annual silver eel run should be underway and there may be an opportunity to observe the processing of the most recent catch. The second trip is a guided tour of Strangford Lough, an internationally important wetland and sea lough less than 10 miles from Belfast. It was Northern Ireland’s first Marine Conservation Zone and is a Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area. It has one of the strongest tidal races in the world with the tide exchanging through the narrows between the villages of Portaferry and Strangford. The lough has many islands and islets and the surrounding countryside is famous for its drumlin dominated landscape. The tour will include a stop on the shore where we will meet a WWT guide who will interpret the significance of the ecology of the lough including its international importance as a staging post for migratory birds. The tour will then progress to Portaferry where we will have the chance to tour the DAERA fishery protection vessel the Queen of Ulster. We will then take the short ferry trip across the narrows to Strangford before completing the lap of the lough with a final stop on the western shore to view the drumlin landscape, a relic of the last Ice Age. Interpretation on the local fisheries including Sea trout will be provided by local resident and IFM Ireland Branch Chairman, Robert Rosell. So that we can ensure that we have enough coach space for delegates please pick your preferred option on the registration page. The conference fee does not include accommodation.  We have put together a short accommodation and information guide for Belfast. This can be downloaded here