The Missing Salmon Alliance leads a global coalition to bring the art installation Salmon School to the heart of the COP26 Summit in Glasgow.
The art installation, Salmon School, is a community engagement project by the internationally renowned artist Joseph Rossano. Salmon School takes to the global stage at COP26 to communicate the message that, with the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, iconic wild salmon are on a path to extinction.
Salmon School brings together a community of artists, scientists, educators and environmental groups from all over the world, all contributing to the project’s artistic vision – salmon represent the global health of our rivers, oceans and ultimately our relationship with the natural world that sustains all human activity. These organisations include Salmon Nation, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Wild Salmon Center, the Smithsonian Institution and Artist, Joseph Rossano.
Alongside Salmon School, the Clyde River Foundation has worked with 26 primary schools along the length of the Clyde. They have learned about the remarkable story of the return of the salmon to the Clyde and contributed to our knowledge and understanding of these remarkable fish by collecting eDNA samples from the river. These will form part of a global database project being run by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
The installation, comprising of more than 300 salmon-like forms created from hand-blown molten glass, is a compelling tribute to a fish that holds great importance to Glasgow and is an indicator of the health of our rivers and oceans. Wild Atlantic salmon populations are in rapid decline; wild Atlantic salmon stocks have plummeted by 80% in 25 years, and if the current trend continues wild salmon will be extinct in many areas of the world within the next 30 years.
Speaking about the project, Joseph Rossano said “As wild salmon are threatened, so are we. It is a humbling experience to see SCHOOL featured in such a significant global setting, but the movement to save Atlantic and Pacific salmon is so much bigger than any single sculpture or event. SCHOOL is inspired by the plight of wild salmon and steelhead of the Upper Skagit River. It’s inspired by the cleanup and restoration of the River Clyde in Glasgow, where salmon have returned. And it’s inspired by similar people and communities everywhere who are facing climate change through the lens of salmon.”
He continues, “I think delegates at COP26 care about salmon because any pathogen that can impact salmon, any poison that can be dissolved in salt or freshwater that can impact them, impacts the food chain, impacts us. We’re learning that global climate change is a function of death by 1000 cuts. It’s common terminology in salmon conservation and it will become common terminology in human conservation too so if there’s a canary in a coal mine it would be hard to argue that it isn’t the salmon.”
The giant salmon shoal, suspended in awe-inspiring formation, will coalesce at COP26 after collecting individual stories from a wide range of communities on how climate change has devastated this once prolific species. The installation also presents a beacon of hope because proven management strategies can turn the tide for a species with iconic status in cultures across our planet. The River Clyde is a resounding success story for salmon and local communities working together to save our salmon. Glasgow bears a salmon on its coat of arms and the installation will be a fitting tribute to a fish that has been instrumental in the city’s prosperity.
Salmon School directly addresses four goals of COP26:
- Carbon Net Zero – Cold, clean water is critical for wild salmon survival and is vanishing due to rising global temperatures, pollution, deforestation and damming – all caused by humans.
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitat. Salmon communities have identified that large scale adaption measures are needed to help the survival of the species and themselves.
- Finance – Significant investment is needed and the financial model needs to change to ensure funding and investment is not destroying the very environments salmon and humans need to survive.
- Working together – The International organisations are collaborating for the first time to save our wild salmon
Placing wild salmon at the forefront of the climate change debate, MSA hopes this will provide a range of measures that will reduce or eliminate the impact climate change is having. Displayed in a prominent position at COP26, the installation will connect delegates with specific initiatives around the world, educating young people, and energising leaders to take decisive action to save the salmon and prevent climate change.
Claire Zambuni [email protected] 07921299990
Emma Sandham [email protected] 07802725000
Notes to Editors:
Founded in 2019, a group of Britain’s leading conservation-focused organisations formed the Missing Salmon Alliance. Their combined expertise has continued to drive action to save our wild Atlantic salmon from the brink of extinction. The member organisations are the Atlantic Salmon Trust, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Angling Trust, Fisheries Management Scotland and the Rivers Trust.
Joseph Rossano’s Salmon School seeks to give the power to help local habitats back to local people. Through an international, multi-media, travelling art exhibition, the Salmon School will travel the world and cast a light on the diminished state of local Salmon populations, and the habitats within which they reside.
Established one hundred and seventy-five years ago, the Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex. The Smithsonian covers topics from the arts to the sciences and, in recent years, is exploring ways to provide critical information for Earth resiliency and sustainability in the face of global change. These include Citizen Science initiatives that put the drive toward understanding our world back into the hands of local people.
The Wild Salmon Center is the leading Pacific salmon organisation, with programmatic activities in the Russian Far East, Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California. Founded in 1992, and based in Portland, Oregon Wild Salmon Center has secured a network of conservation strongholds across 3 million acres of now protected habitat.
The Salmon Nation accelerates a vibrant and growing movement towards the formation of healthy, localized, and more regenerative communities and economies. With their work ranging from Northern California to the North Slope of Alaska, the Salmon Nation seeks to keep one of the America’s most beautiful bioregions healthy for people, and wildlife, alike.
Headquartered in New Brunswick, Canada, the Atlantic Salmon Federation stands as a Salmon Conservation’s world-leading science and advocacy organization. They oversee a network of seven state and provincial councils, and 103 affiliated groups. Altogether, the Atlantic Salmon Federation represents a network of over 25,000 members and volunteers, all interested in the restoration of wild Atlantic Salmon.