Reflecting on NoWPaS 2018

Quite a few of our guest bloggers recently have been at the same conference. Unfortunately, I could only follow the key scientific revelations via Twitter from afar but I have been alerted to some work of which I was previously unaware, so I am hoping to establish contact with those people and perhaps they will contribute a blog or two in the near future. Here, Jess Marsh (she of the water crowfoot and salmonid community research) has kindly offered to tell us briefly about NoWPas.

A week after the 14th annual NoWPaS workshop was wrapped up in spectacular style with a traditional Finnish nuotio, or campfire, we are reflecting on an inspiring week of exciting salmonid research, new experiences and friendships.

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NoWPaS 2018 participants at Oulanka Research Station, Finland. Photo taken by Angus Lothian

For those new to NoWPaS, it is the International (formerly Nordic) Workshop for PhD and post-doctoral fellows working on anadromous Salmonids. This annual event aims to build and maintain an international network of young scientists working on migratory salmonids, including Atlantic salmon and brown trout. Since its establishment in Norway in 2005, the workshop has travelled across Europe, and even made it over to Canada in 2016. Year-on-year, the workshop structure has remained the same, which is testament to its appeal to early career researchers. The week includes short presentations by all delegates, presentations from invited keynote speakers – senior researchers in their fields, excursions to places of interest, and a chance for participants to immerse themselves in local culture and activities.

This year, we were at the Oulanka Research Station of the University of Oulu, in Kuusamo, which is located in the north-east of Finland. En route from our meeting point in Kajaani, we stopped off at the impressive Kainuu Fisheries Research Station in Paltamo, which is one of the largest facilities for fish research in semi-natural and experimental settings in Europe, and is involved in a wide range of projects focusing on salmon and brown trout.

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Ice fishing in Oulanka National Park. Photo taken by Aurora Hatanpää

This year’s workshop was the biggest yet – 30 delegates and 4 keynote speakers, from 19 different Universities – and so we were treated to a wealth of fantastic talks ranging in subjects from trends in space use by sea trout in Scottish sea lochs to the impacts of increasing temperature on Atlantic salmon populations in Canada. As well as exploring the stunning Oulanka National Park, we tried our hands at ice fishing, snow-shoeing and ice-swimming (post sauna, of course). To top it all off, we even got a display of the Aurora Borealis…

Aurora borealis, Oulanka. Photo taken by Angus Lothian

Huge thanks to the organisers of NoWPaS 2018 for all their hard work putting together a great meeting. We now look forward to March 2019 when NoWPaS will return to Scotland, to the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment (SCENE) at Loch Lomond.

One of the founding and foremost principles of the NoWPaS network is that it is free for all participants to attend. In the past, we have been able to achieve this thanks to generous support and contributions from sponsors. Our fundraising for the 2019 workshop will be kicking off shortly.

There are several ways to donate money, including in-kind donations, equipment donations (that are auctioned) and sponsorship. To learn more about how you and/​or your organisation can get involved, please email nowpas2019@​gmail.​com.

Follow NoWPaS at @NoWPaS