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Funding to support salmon recovery

Projects aim to bring salmon population back from crisis point.

New funding of £500,000 will support the development of wild salmon conservation measures.

The money will be used for two projects, the National Adult Sampling Plan which provides crucial data on wild salmon stock and  the development of a standardised fisheries management plan template which can be used by all the fisheries management areas in Scotland.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon will announce the funding as part of a speech to international delegates and Scottish stakeholders at the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) annual meeting this evening.

It follows the publication of the Scottish Government’s Wild Salmon Strategy which aims to bring the wild salmon population in Scotland back from crisis point.

An implementation plan for the strategy will be introduced by the end of the year.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon yesterday said:

“I am looking forward to addressing NASCO delegates conference and highlighting the significant work that is being done in Scotland to reverse the decline in wild salmon stocks.

“In addition to the measures we will take in Scotland, we are committed to supporting and pushing forward collective action in the international arena, so the young salmon leaving our rivers survive the many challenges they face on the high seas to return to their home river to spawn the next generation.

“Recently published salmon fishery statistics continue to confirm the downward trend in the numbers of wild salmon returning to Scottish rivers and we must now reinvigorate our collective efforts to ensure a positive future for the species.

“Although the pattern of decline is repeated across the salmon’s North Atlantic range, with climate change a significant factor, there remains much that we can do in our rivers, lochs and coastal waters to seek to build resilience and transform the fortunes of this iconic fish.

“Only by acting together, at home and overseas, and applying our collective resource, knowledge and expertise can we hope to change the fortunes of this iconic and vital species.”

Scotland is a stronghold for salmon, which start their lives in streams and rivers, migrate to the high seas to grow and return home to spawn, connecting diverse habitats over a vast area.

Salmon are affected by a wide range of pressures, some at sea, but many others acting within the Scottish freshwater and coastal environments. A key contributory factor appears to be climate change.


 Salmon live in fresh water for 1-4 years before undertaking a long migration north to their feeding grounds in the North Atlantic. After 1-3 years at sea, adults often return to the river in which they were hatched to spawn and begin the next generation.

  • This life cycle means they are exposed to a range of threats and pressures in streams, rivers, sea lochs, estuaries, coastal waters and the open ocean.
  • The number of salmon returning to Scotland’s coast has declined since the early 1970s. The estimated number of spawning salmon remained steady over this period, before declining from 2010 onwards.
  • Salmon and Sea Trout Statistics
  • Wild Salmon Strategy

Details on the funded projects:

 National Adult Sampling Programme

  • £300,000 to further develop a National Adult Sampling Programme. In recent decades returning salmon have been getting smaller, this results in fewer eggs being produced and fewer salmon in future generations. To better understand the trends, adult salmon returning to Scottish rivers are sampled to collect information on their length, weight, sex, age, condition and disease status. This work will provide crucial data on wild adult salmon necessary for future stock assessments. The data will inform national and international management strategies (e.g. conservation regulations) which are intended to protect wild salmon populations.

Development of Fisheries Management Plans

 £200,000 (including £100,000 from Crown Estate Scotland) to develop a standardised fisheries management plan template which can be used by all the fisheries management areas in Scotland. The plans will allow data to be collected on: environmental characteristics of the area; the status of the fish populations – salmon and sea trout; the pressures facing wild salmon in the area; current actions and future management options to protect and restore the fish and fisheries. Fisheries Management Scotland and its members will be involved in the development of the fisheries management plan template and technological solutions required. Funding will be provided to all fisheries boards and trusts.


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