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Keywords:

  • exploitation;
  • growth;
  • marine survival;
  • River Bush;
  • Salmo salar L

An examination of marine growth/marine survival relationships in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., was carried out, based on scale growth measurements in relation to two indices of marine survival in wild fish from the River Bush, Northern Ireland. The survival of cohorts to the Irish/Northern Irish coast (prefishery) and to fresh water was statistically unrelated to variation in growth from smolt migration to the end of the first winter at sea (P > 0.1; –P > 0.7). Marine growth of 1+ smolts decreased significantly during the period of the study (P < 0.05), but growth of 2+ smolts did not change (P > 0.05). The variability in marine growth was much less than the variation in natural survival at sea, suggesting that factors instead of or in addition to, growth influence natural survival in the marine environment. Survival to fresh water was not related to survival to the coast (P > 0.4), although it was inversely correlated with exploitation rate (P < 0.01). These results are discussed in relation to the use of freshwater returns to assess marine survival and the potential for the variation in natural marine mortality to influence total life-cycle variation.