The number of salmon returning to Scotland’s coast has dropped, a report has said, and the Government aims to buck the trend and bring the species back from “crisis point”.
The Scottish Government launched its Scottish Wild Salmon Strategy on Friday in a bid to turn around the fish’s fortunes, and hopes the country’s wild Atlantic salmon will once again flourish.
Mairi Gougeon, rural affairs secretary, said: “There is significant evidence showing that populations of Atlantic salmon are at crisis point and we must reinvigorate our collective efforts to ensure a positive future for the species.”
Scotland is a stronghold for salmon, the strategy said, with the fish starting their lives in the country’s streams and rivers before migrating to the high seas to grow and return home to spawn.
But the number of salmon returning to Scotland’s coast has fallen, and the estimated number of spawning salmon has declined from 2010 onwards.
Ms Gougeon said: “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.”
The Government paper said the lifecycle of the fish meant they were exposed to a range of threats and pressures in streams, rivers, sea lochs, estuaries, coastal waters and the open ocean.
The strategy focuses on five priority areas for action, including: improving the condition of rivers; managing exploitation, including the effectiveness of deterrents to poachers; understanding and mitigating pressures that salmon face; international collaboration; and developing a modernised policy framework.
The Scottish Government said the strategy also signalled an increase in efforts to build resilience of salmon stocks in the country.
The minister added: “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.”
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