COP26: Striking fish artwork takes global stage to highlight extinction risk to wild salmon in Scotland and abroad

A stunning artwork highlighting the extinction threat to Scotland’s ‘king of fish’ is set to grab global attention at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

The exhibit, which features more than 300 glimmering glass fish, will be staged in the conference Blue Zone, where global leaders and negotiators will gather next month to hammer out plans for saving the planet from environmental destruction.

Titled Salmon School, the installation is the culmination of a community engagement project by internationally renowned artist Joseph Rossano.

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The UK Missing Salmon Alliance (MSA), a coalition of groups and individuals dedicated to reversing declines in wild fish, is the lead partner in bringing Salmon School to COP26.

Salmon School, an artwork by internationally renowned artist Joseph Rossano, will be on show in Glasgow at the COP26 climate summit

The organisation has also been working with the local Clyde River Foundation on projects around the Glasgow area – including a collaboration with 26 primary schools along the length of the Clyde, geared at helping youngsters learn about salmon, conservation, science and the environment.

By bringing this international collaboration to the United Nations conference, the MSA aims to put salmon at the centre of the global debate on climate change.

“Wild salmon thrive in cold, clean water and climate change threatens their populations” MSA’s Stuart Singleton-White said.

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The installation, which highlights the extinction threat to wild salmon, will be shown in the Blue Zone at COP26 - where key negotiations will take place

“Joseph Rossano’s inspirational Salmon School installation is a compelling tribute to a fish that holds great importance to Glasgow, which bears the symbol on its coat of arms.

“The importance of wild salmon to local communities is seen around the world.

“This is the first time these global salmon conservation organisations have collaborated, brought together by the ethos of Salmon School.”

He says exhibiting the piece at COP26 also showcases the conservation success story of the River Clyde in the last 50 years, with signs of recovery in the local indigenous wild salmon population.

Salmon School is made up of 300 fish created out of hand-blown glass

“This is a prime example of how salmon represent the health of our rivers and oceans here in the UK,” he said.

“Through Salmon School, a world of environmentalists, scientists, artists and craftspeople have come together to bring a call to action – calling on governments to ensure salmon are a key component in the actions, agreements and commitment coming out of COP26, as part of their future nationally determined contributions and net-zero carbon financing.”

Speaking about the project, artist Rossano said: “As wild salmon are threatened, so are we.

Salmon School, is a community engagement project led by artist Joseph Rossano, bringing together artists, scientists, educators and environmental groups from all over the world to contribute the project’s artistic vision

“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 clean-up 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.”

Wild Atlantic salmon populations are in rapid decline in Scotland and elsewhere, with stocks crashing by 80 per cent in just 25 years.

If the current trend continues, experts predict the species will be extinct in many areas of the world within the next three decades.

Artist Joseph Rossano with one of the glass fish that will be part of shoal on display in Glasgow

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Each of the fish in the Salmon School installation has been hand-crafted out of blown glass
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