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Move to bring population back from crisis point in Moray and rest of Scotland with Wild Salmon Strategy launch by Scottish Government

By Alistair Whitfield

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The Scottish Government has launched a strategy in an attempt to protect the nation's declining numbers of wild salmon.

Fishing on the River Spey. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Fishing on the River Spey. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Mairi Gougeon, the Rural Affairs Secretary, said the population of Atlantic salmon is now at "crisis point" in Scotland.

This decline, she added, was not just being witnessed at home but across the whole of the species' Atlantic range.

A likely reason, at least in part, was the damage done by climate change to the survival rates of the fish while far out at sea.

However, Mrs Gougeon said: "There remains much that we can do in our rivers and coastal waters to build resilience and transform the fortunes of this iconic fish for the better."

Introducing the newly published strategy, she pointed to the River Clyde, where salmon were once extinct, as an example that a turnaround was possible.

Mrs Gougeon said: "Hard work and investment by multiple partners to improve water quality and restore connectivity in this heavily industrialised river means that salmon have now made a welcome return to the Clyde and its tributaries."

Mairi Gougeon.
Mairi Gougeon.

She continued: "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.

"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."

Studies have shown the krill upon which salmon feed have migrated further north in search of cooler ocean waters.

With salmon having to swim further in order to feed while out at sea, this has reduced the number able to complete the journey back.


The Scottish Government strategy outlines five priorities:

• improving the condition of rivers;

• managing exploitation including the effectiveness of deterrents to poachers;

• understanding and mitigating pressures salmon face in the marine and coastal environment;

• international collaboration;

• and developing a modernised policy framework.

It can be downloaded and viewed in full HERE

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