Making Salmon Conservation a National Priority

Emma Steel ,
3 Mar 2020

As a keystone species, the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) has significant economic, social, cultural and environmental importance to Scotland.

Salmon live in freshwater rivers throughout Scotland as juveniles, migrating to the North Atlantic as adults, before making an epic journey back to their native river to spawn after between one and three years at sea.

Classed as “vulnerable” in Europe on the ICUN Red List of Threatened Species, environmental change and a range of human impacts across the Northern Hemisphere are placing salmon at risk throughout their natural range. The number of catches in Scotland are now the lowest ever recorded. The declines are such that salmon conservation must become a national priority.

At the start of the year SLE and Fisheries Management Scotland held a joint roundtable event in the Scottish Parliament to discuss the collective efforts required to reverse the dramatic decline in salmon stocks and provide an insight into ensuring a sustainable future for our iconic species.

The event sponsored by Michelle Ballantyne MSP, Scottish Environment LINK species Champion for the Atlantic salmon was attended by a broad range of stakeholders, including representatives of the fisheries management sector, angling businesses, fishery owners, Scottish Government and agencies and a range of non-government organisations with an interest in land, water and environmental management.

At the event there was widespread recognition of the crisis wild salmon face and acknowledgement that we need to act urgently and collectively, with the need to prioritize on issues where we can have an impact. We need to act with ambition and intensity, the status quo is no longer an option.

The unique lifestyle of Atlantic Salmon means they face a huge range of pressures during their life span these threats are complex and  multifactorial. Since few of these pressures are under the direct control of fisheries managers a collective effort to address the problems is required. We hope these efforts will be reflected in the forthcoming salmon strategy.

The Atlantic salmon is an essential species both for riparian biodiversity and to the rural economy. With 2020 designated as the Year of Coasts and Waters, now is as important time as ever to work collaboratively to secure a more positive future for this iconic species. We will continue to work with stakeholders and our members to do everything possible to safeguard the future of this species in Scotland.

The presentations and summary of proceedings for the roundtable event are available on the Fisheries Management Scotland website.