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DAI Trout in the Classroom Project


There was great excitement in Mulhuddart National School and Scoil Olibhre primary school recently as both Dublin schools took part in the DAI (Dublin Angling Initiative) ‘Trout in the Classroom’ project. This special project allows children, under supervision, to rear trout eggs in their school. The practical nature of this project brings the subject to life for children and they all have a role to play in ensuring the eggs reach maturity and are released into the wild.

Photo: Trout fry leave the school for release into the River Tolka

Trout farming and egg rearing is a complex process, for even the most experienced fish farmer. In order to ensure success, the water temperature must be regularly monitored, the eggs (or ova) must be protected from natural light, a constant flow of water and oxygen and the continuous removal of dead eggs and any debris which may encourage fungal growth and destroy the eggs must be carried out.

In spite of these challenges, the children in both schools managed to rear over 600 trout fry successfully with very few casualties. The eggs were donated by the Central Fisheries Board Trout Fish Farm in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary and were delivered to the schools in late November 2006 by Des Chew of the Dublin Angling Initiative. The aquariums which were donated by Pet Stop in Blanchardstown town centre were already in place awaiting the arrival of the eggs. The project involved numerous visits to the schools where children learned all about their local river, the Tolka, and the life cycle of the trout and salmon. Each child received a booklet and a fish species brochure that was produced by the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board, with puzzles and coloring games to assist with this educational programme.

The children took turns placing bottles of frozen water into the tank twice daily to keep the water temperature below 10 degrees, while others removed the dead eggs with a turkey baster! Some children and their parents came to the school every day during the Christmas holidays to continue to monitor the eggs just as would staff in any fish farm.

There was great satisfaction and personal achievement watching the eggs change and develop and then on the 28th December 2006, the young fry started to hatch from their eggs with the egg sac attached to their bodies. The monitoring of water temperature and removal of the debris continued up until Tuesday 16th January when the two schools came together on the banks of the river Tolka to release the fry which were now free swimming and had fully absorbed the sac so that the trout fry could live their life in the river Tolka.

The project gave the children a wonderful awareness of their local river and gave them a degree of ownership and responsibility for the welfare of the river. They recorded all the data as they went along, times, dates, temperatures etc. More than 110 children were directly involved and attended the release of the fry into the river Tolka at Mulhuddart.

Photo: Trout fry about about to be released into the River Tolka as classmates look on

Last year, this section of the river benefited from major spawning enhancement development work where gravel beds were created and resting or holding pools were dug out to improve the trout habitat. This work was carried out by Fingal County Council and the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board. On the day of release, rangers from the Tolka Valley Park, Fisheries Officers from the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board, Youth Workers from Foroige Youth Project, members of the Tolka River Environmental Alliance and teachers from both schools were present to support the initiative.

Six schools in the Tolka Valley catchment area are already booked to participate in this project for 2007. The idea for the project came from Philip Jennings from Blanchardstown Youth Service and the programme was run by Des Chew of the Dublin Angling Initiative. Well done to everyone who took part in this special project, especially the children.

For further information on the education projects carried out by the DAI and the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board, please visit

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