The Atlantic Salmon Trust was Founded in 1967 in response to growing concerns about over exploitation of wild salmon in the Faroes and Greenland Coastal waters.

Since then we have acquired a reputation as an influential advocate for salmon conservation within the United Kingdom. Traditionally our work has been in the freshwater environment, but more recently we have focused on the lives of wild salmon at sea.

Latest News

Impacts of salmon lice emanating from salmon farms on wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New report concludes: Considerable evidence exists that there is a link between farm-intensive areas and the spread of salmon lice to wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout.

The report, produced by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) and commissioned by Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TC Scotland) has summarised available and up to date research on the impact of salmon lice (sea lice) from salmon farms. It concludes that the effects of salmon lice from fish farms on wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout populations can be severe – ultimately reducing the number of adult fish due to salmon lice induced mortality, resulting in reduced stocks and reduced opportunities for fisheries. Depending on the population size of wild fish, elevated salmon lice levels can also result in too few spawners to reach conservation limits.

The report, Impacts of salmon lice emanating from salmon farms on wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout, is published by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Norway’s leading institution for applied ecological research. It authors Prof. Eva B. Thorstad and Dr. Bengt Finstad, are internationally recognised for their expertise in sea lice biology and the interactions between salmon farming and wild fish.

The report draws the following conclusions (pg. 15):


Scientific studies indicate that salmon farming increases the abundance of salmon lice in the marine habitat and that salmon lice in the most intensively farmed areas have negatively impacted wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout populations. The effects of salmon lice on Atlantic salmon and sea trout include increased marine mortality, reduced marine growth, and for sea trout as changes in migratory behaviour. Published studies range from those investigating the effects of salmon lice on individual fish, both in the laboratory and the field, to analyses of their impacts on wild populations.

Conclusions are based on comprehensive studies of the effects by salmon lice, which include:

1) Studies of individual fish in laboratory and field studies documenting (i) tissue damage, (ii) problems with salt regulation and other physiological stress responses, (iii) reduced growth, and (iv) increased susceptibility to secondary infections and reduced disease resistance. One or more of these effects have frequently been reported to occur as the result of heavy salmon lice infestations.

2) Studies documenting premature migratory return to freshwater of sea trout with high levels of salmon lice. Premature migratory return may facilitate individual survival and recovery from infestation, but reduce growth and thereby future reproduction by reducing the time spent feeding at sea. Sea trout with excessive skin lesions also may be more vulnerable to fungal and bacterial infection in fresh-water.

3) Studies based on catch statistics and routine population monitoring utilizing in-river traps that have indicated salmon lice-induced changes in population abundance, age structure and altered life history characteristics.

4) Monitoring of salmon lice levels on wild fish.

5) Comparisons of salmon lice levels in farm-intensive and less farm-intensive (or farm-free) areas.

6) Indications of population-level effects on sea trout based on monitoring of salmon lice levels on wild fish in relation to experimentally determined threshold levels known to induce physiological compromise and mortality of individual fish.

7) Quantification of Atlantic salmon mortality due to salmon lice in large-scale field studies by comparing growth and marine survival of salmon treated with prophylactic chemicals against salmon lice with un-protected control groups.

In sum, the combined knowledge from scientific studies provides evidence of a general and pervasive negative effect of salmon lice on salmonid populations in intensively farmed areas of Ireland, Norway and Scotland. Premature migratory return, increased marine mortality and reduced growth of survivors that are induced by elevated salmon lice levels inevitably imply a reduction in numbers and body size of fish returning to freshwater for spawning, and hence in number of fish available to fisheries. Levels of additional mortality by salmon lice as indicated in several scientific studies may result in salmon stocks not achieving river specific conservation limits and, if sustained over time, could result in significant cumulative reductions in adult salmon recruitment.

The report was published on 10th January 2018 and is available at http://hdl.handle.net/11250/2475746 or at https://www.salmon-trout.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Thorstad-Finstad-2018-Impacts-of-salmon-lice-NINA-Report-1449-2.pdf

In June 2017, the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, in response to a formal Petition lodged in the Scottish Parliament in February 2016 by S&TC Scotland seeking protection for wild salmonids from sea lice from Scottish salmon farms, agreed to launch an Inquiry (scheduled for 2018) into salmon farming in Scotland.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Proceedings of the 2nd International Sea Trout Symposium held in Dundalk, Republic of Ireland, on 20 – 22 October 2015. Now Available in Hardback.

The brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) is a ‘plastic’ species that exists in many different forms in response to its evolutionary history and the variable conditions in its local environment. Widely distributed and generally abundant throughout its natural range in Western Europe, some forms remain in freshwater to complete their entire life-cycle as ‘resident trout’ while others adopt an anadromous habit to become ‘sea trout’ that migrate to sea to feed and grow before returning to freshwater to spawn. Thus, the brown trout, with its ability to occupy small streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries and the sea, demonstrates a flexible continuum in its complex life history that presents major challenges for its conservation, regulation and management.

Often overlooked and taken-for-granted by management agencies in the past, the continuing decline in stocks of co-dwelling Atlantic salmon has increased the importance of the sea trout in sustaining socially and economically valuable recreational and commercial fisheries and as a biological indicator of the health of the aquatic environment in both fresh water and the sea. It is also the custodian of a remarkable range of genetic biodiversity within a single species.

This important new volume updates developments in the science and management of the enigmatic sea trout in the Northwest Atlantic since the 1st International Symposium on ‘Sea Trout: Biology, Conservation & Management’ in Cardiff, Wales in July 2004. It includes 30 peer-reviewed papers by acknowledged experts under the broad themes of:

  • Understanding Anadromy
  • Populations & Management
  • Movement & Migration
  • Monitoring & Surveillance
  • Ecology & Behaviour
  • Threat Assessment

To see full contents list click HERE.

Although useful progress has been made in addressing the principal recommendations for management action identified at the 1st Symposium, notably in the key topic areas of marine migrations, stock assessment, population modelling, genetic stock identification and in understanding the links between genetics, environmental conditions and life history variation, progress on other key topics has been less fruitful. The final chapter identifies 13 management priorities of strategic importance that are common to most sea trout producing nations where further work is required to fill the major gaps in our knowledge that limit our ability to manage the resource in ways that are sustainable: both now and in the future.

This significant publication represents an important new source of future reference material for Government Departments and their respective management agencies, universities and other research institutions, and the many voluntary bodies representing fisheries and wildlife stakeholder interests throughout Europe.

Sea trout book cover copy

SEA TROUT: SCIENCE & MANAGEMENT – Published November 2017 and now available in Hardback (585 pages)

Price €70.00 (plus postage & packing)

Order direct from Inland Fisheries Ireland: either online at http://seatroutsymposium.org/ or by telephone (+353 01 884 2600)

These proceedings have been self-published to reduce the cover price and so promote their widest possible distribution. Nett income from sales will be used to promote future initiatives that progress sea trout science and management.

ST Book Logos

Copies of the companion ‘Book of Proceedings’ of the 1st International Sea trout Symposium on ‘Sea Trout: Biology Conservation & Management’ published in 2006 are still available (in either hardback or as an E-book) from http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1405129913.html


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AST Christmas Drinks & Lost at Sea Film

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

On the 12th December the AST hosted its Christmas Drinks party and London Premier of the documentary film, Atlantic Salmon Lost at Sea at the Curzon Cinema, Mayfair, London.

The event brought to a close the AST’s 50th Anniversary Year. It was an opportunity for the Trust staff to present an overview of its science strategy and projects, in particular focusing on plans for a major acoustic telemetry tracking project in the Moray Firth in 2019.

AST CEO Sarah Bayley Slater highlighted the urgency with which action needed to be taken “In just over two decades the numbers of smolts that leave UK rivers and return as adults has fallen from over 20% to less than 5%. Across the Atlantic, salmon numbers have plummeted from 8 – 10 million to 3 – 4 million in the last forty years. That means their numbers have halved during the lifetime of many anglers.”

Prof. Ken Whelan the ASTs Research Director said an overriding theme in the AST science strategy was “the need to improve the survival of smolts and adults throughout their migratory journey, from the moment they silver up as smolts to the time they spawn as adults”.

“It is for this reason that the principal focus of the strategy is on learning more about migration routes and about the threats the fish face at each stage of their migration and, where possible, on how these can be mitigated or eliminated.”

The Lost at Sea film highlights the hard work underway by dedicated researchers and environmentalists around the world to better understand the challenges salmon face. Before the film, our very own Dr. Matt Newton revealed plans for a major tracking project in the Moray Firth. This will be a key focus for the Atlantic Salmon Trust over the coming year, with big news about a major awareness and fundraising campaign to come early in 2018.

Special thanks to event sponsors: RS Aqua and The Fishmongers’ Company


Lost At Sea

The film, Atlantic Salmon – Lost at Sea! takes the viewer on an epic journey through the mysterious world of the King of Fish. This is a quest to solve the mystery of the salmon’s life at sea and answer the question: why are salmon dying in greater numbers than ever before in their ocean environment and not returning to their native rivers?

The film was recently completed with the generous support of sponsors – organisations such as the Atlantic Salmon Trust and the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and individuals who supported the film via its kickstarter campaign. The Lost at Sea crew filmed for 80 days in 6 different countries. The filming began in 2009 on board the research vessel the Celtic Explorer, which was being used by scientists in the SALSEA program.

To find out about viewings of the film or to contact producer Deirdre Brennan please go to : https://www.facebook.com/atlanicsalmonlostatsea/


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Announcement: Ivor Llewelyn retiring from AST at the end of 2017

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

After 11 years as the AST’s Director for England & Wales, Ivor Llewelyn will retire at the end of 2017.

As a consequence of refocusing of the AST on salmonid migration and marine issues and delivering projects such as our acoustic tracking programme we will not be filling the post of Director – England/Wales for the foreseeable future.

Looking forward the AST will be concentrating its influencing work and research on in-river migration and marine survival. However, we will continue to work closely with other fisheries and conservation organisations throughout the British Isles on salmon and sea trout conservation, and remain ready to add our voice to theirs where we can make a useful contribution.

In particular, we will continue to provide the scientific evidence which other organisations can draw on, and convene conferences and workshops for the purposes of informing fisheries management and policy.

The AST Board is enormously grateful to Ivor for his dedication to the conservation and protection of wild salmon and sea trout. At the recent Board meeting held in London last week Prof Ken Whelan said a few words in recognition of Ivor’s career (see speech below). Ivor was presented with a framed photograph, recording his meeting with His Majesty The King of Norway at the AST 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner in June 2017, and a tracking device for his life jacket (Ivor is a keen sailor). That way we’ll never lose him and maybe he’ll even become one of the subjects within our Tracking Programme!!

Ivor will continue to be involved with the Trust on a project basis and representation at certain fisheries meetings in England.

Please note below the new first points of contact (for areas previously involving Ivor):

AST Honorary Scientific Advisory Panel: Ken Whelan [ken.whelan@hotmail.com]
Administration of grants awarded by AST: Pamela Lowry [pamela@atlanticsalmontrust.org]
English Fisheries Group: Sarah Bayley Slater [sarah@atlanticsalmontrust.org]
Salmon & Sea Trout Archive: Sarah Bayley Slater [sarah@atlanticsalmontrust.org]
Conferences & Meetings: Pamela Lowry [pamela@atlanticsalmontrust.org]
Representation on technical groups (e.g. GWCT Fisheries Advisory Committee): Matt Newton [matt@atlanticsalmontrust.org]
Ivor Llewelyn

Ivor was a career Civil Servant and worked for many years in various policy areas covered by MAFF, now Defra. In the mid 80’s he was involved with the reports of the Salmon Advisory Committee which advised on the management and conservation of salmon stocks in England, Wales and Scotland. He subsequently played a leading role in the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review, which covered all of the freshwater fish species found in England and Wales. These reports are still today highly regarded and seen as mapping out many of the modern approaches to salmon and sea trout management. Ivor also played a leading role on the international scene and was the lead England and Wales representative at meetings of both NASCO and the Whaling Commission. It is said that the busiest post bag of any Minister is the Minister covering either whales or salmon. As a senior Civil Servant Ivor covered both and his work in these areas is widely recognised and highly regarded! His work on salmon at NASCO was particularly important, since it was in the late 90’s that many of the major decisions relating to the co-ordination of salmon management practices were made.

Ivor joined the AST in 2006 and over the past decade has played a seminal role in the Trust as Director of England and Wales. His work covered the co-ordination of the Honorary Scientific Advisory panel and the organisation and dissemination of material from a range of conferences and workshops organised by AST. Ivor is meticulous in his planning and in the compilation of reports. Many of his reports and booklets are first class summaries of what at times were technical and complex meetings. His work on the AST Flows Conference, the Sea Trout Workshop, the IBIS / AST Small Streams and Tracking workshops, the recent AST /Tweed Foundation Smolt Conference and his key involvement in the proceedings of the second International Sea Trout Symposiums are particularly highly regarded. More recently he has represented AST on the co-ordination group advising on the new Salmon 5-Point Approach being developed by Environment Agency and a wide range of stakeholders.

Now that he is retiring it will give Ivor, Georgia and their family more time to spend in their cottage in the west of Ireland, where Ivor enjoys sailing and of course chasing salmon and sea trout!


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Policy and Research

The job of the Trust is to show people how both species can be conserved and managed to enable their value to society to be realised sustainably. The Trust’s work concentrates on improving our knowledge of these fish, their habitats and their complex and fascinating life histories, and the threats to their survival. Until recently this knowledge was confined mainly to the freshwater aspects of their life cycle, but the AST is now focusing on the migration and marine phase of their life cycle.
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Current Priorities

As the UK's only charity whose work is devoted exclusively to the conservation of wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout, the AST's focus is on the whole lives of these fish, in both freshwater and marine environments. Our current priority is to find out why and where salmon and sea trout are dying and the AST is directing its focus on the migration of salmonids, and the lower river, coastal and marine environment.
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Activities and Services

The Trust facilitates research, undertakes projects, organises events and communicates its findings to anglers, fishery managers, owners and the public. To keep our Friends and Supporters informed the Trust will be publishing an annual report, issuing monthly news updates and news flashes and maintaining an up-to-date website.
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