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.Read more
Marine Scotland is tracking salmon from July 2017 and would like your help.
If you catch a salmon with a tag (as shown in the photograph below) near the dorsal fin, then please remove it by cutting through the plastic cord to remove the acoustic tag (black cylinder). Please note that the colour of the cord may vary from yellow.
Please send the acoustic tag, also with a note of day and location of capture, to:
Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory,
Please enclose your name, postal and email (if applicable) address and we will send you £20 in reward.
If you have any other information about the fish (eg a photo, length, sex) then please include it when you send in the tag. However, please do not delay the safe return of the fish to the water to obtain any such information.
The Armadale Tracking Team
Your Majesty, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I am enormously grateful to His Majesty for responding so positively to my invitation and giving up his precious time to be with us on this important occasion. Now, I well recall visiting Norway forty-seven years ago and having a brief opportunity in-between engagements to cast a fly in the river Rauma where, of course, I was regaled by old fishing stories about my great grandfather, King George V, who had inevitably caught a forty or fifty pounder in precisely the place where I was fishing! Rather ignominiously, and in absolute accordance with the operation of Murphy’s Law, I ended up catching a four pound grilse – but ladies and gentlemen, I think that was at the time when Norwegian rivers had been struck so badly by the dreaded Salmon disease, so perhaps it was an excuse.
Having started fishing for Salmon at the age of seven in 1955, when the rivers were crammed with fish and the seasons were in their proper places, I have never really wanted to fish for anything else and over the years my fascination has extended to wanting to know much more about this most enigmatic and noble of species. In particular, I have come to appreciate the sheer vulnerability of this once abundant natural resource. Now, as you all know as well as me, there are so many threats that lie in wait at various stages of the salmon’s extraordinary life cycle. Yet at the same time it plays an important part in the fragile economies of many marginal communities. So when stocks decline there is far more at stake than a heavenly day’s fishing. That, of course, is why I am so pleased and proud to be Patron of the Atlantic Salmon Trust and to have been so for the past thirty-three years of its fifty years existence.
As many of you may recall, the Trust was formed in 1967 against a depressing backdrop of rampant salmon disease and an increasingly difficult situation in relation to netting off the Greenland and Faroese coasts. The founders of the Trust were very clear that, without objective science, management could not tackle these very difficult and seemingly intractable issues. That was a far-sighted approach and as important now as it was then, even though the problems are rather different.
Within ten years of the establishment of the Atlantic Salmon Trust, salmon disease was on the wane and the problems in relation to the major high seas fisheries had been greatly reduced, with only a fraction of the original prodigious catches being taken.
The expectation was that, with these problems under control, Atlantic salmon stocks would rebound and rebound quickly. However, this simply did not happen, and within a few years it became clear that Man’s influence on the life cycle of the salmon was much more profound.
Well, our greatest concern today is the very small proportion of salmon smolts leaving their rivers which return as adult salmon. Thirty years ago, up to one in four would make it back. Today, it is only one in twenty. Yet we do not know why this is happening. And until we do, we will not be able to put solutions in place. And until we have solutions, stocks will continue to decline.
Back in 1967, the year the Trust was founded, the catch of salmon from the Dee in Aberdeenshire, for example, was almost 8,000, of which around three quarters were Spring fish. Last year the total catch was less than 4,000, of which only one quarter were Spring fish. As it happens, I remember the Dee in 1967 and the contrast with today was even starker than those figures suggest – especially in the upper reaches of the Dee at Balmoral.
Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot continue to lose ninety-five per cent of our salmon on their epic journey to and from our rivers. It is quite simply unsustainable. So we urgently need to know just what is happening to them along the way.
The Atlantic Salmon Trust is tackling this problem with its unique blend of science generated through its access to senior scientists across Britain and Ireland, a strong executive team and knowledge derived from those who own, manage and fish rivers. The Trust’s current work is geared towards understanding and solving some of the issues faced by our migrating smolts and post-smolts. Its science strategy covers the whole of the salmon’s journey from head water through its epic ocean migration and back to its river of origin. In this evening’s programme you can read about the three core salmon projects – acoustic tracking; D.N.A. chemical tracking and working collaboratively with the aquaculture industry and other wild fish colleagues to reduce the impact of net cage aquaculture on wild salmonids. They give an excellent insight into the Trust’s scientific work and the sophisticated methods they are using to establish the facts about what is going on.
At today’s symposium it was agreed that the key to understanding why less than five per cent of smolts which leave our rivers are returning is not only to understand where they are going, but to evaluate using current data where they are dying, and why.
The last decade of research has revealed a range of likely factors that may be impacting on migrating smolts and post-smolts. Some of these at least are amenable to direct management actions. And they include river barriers, river flows, predation, aquaculture and by-catch on the high seas. The Trust, with its partners around the Atlantic, is building a mathematical model which will identify the relative importance of these key suspects which may be affecting our salmon and seek to provide management solutions to the problem.
One of the most important factors to take into consideration when assessing the range of pressures facing wild salmon stocks is Climate Change. Whilst the impacts of Climate Change, now and in the future, on salmon stocks is still the subject of much research, it is understood that factors such as warmer and acidifying waters, drought and flooding, scarcer feeding opportunities and invasive species are all affecting survival rates of salmon both in the marine environment and in our freshwater ecosystems. For example, it seems that there is evidence that the plankton that Salmon rely on to feed at sea, as well as other species, are moving North due to warming temperatures. Similarly, it would appear that more frequent storms, leading to changing currents at sea, and flooding in rivers are impacting migratory routes, feeding patterns and survival of salmon eggs in rivers. So, given the “multiplier” effect, the “threat multiplier”effect, that Climate Change is having, it is ever, ever more important to work together in an holistic way to start to relieve the pressures on salmon stocks at sea, in our rivers and in our estuaries, in order for them to continue to survive.
Ladies and gentlemen, one of the many outstanding attributes of the Atlantic Salmon Trust is its uncanny ability to sense well in advance the key issues which need to be tackled and it has established an outstanding track record in relation to the practical, management-orientated research that they have commissioned or supported over the past five decades. I am hugely impressed by its work and achievements, and only too proud to be Patron of such a successful, innovative and dedicated organization.
In commending the work of the Trust to you, I do just want to welcome George Percy, Robbie Douglas Miller and Sarah Bayley Slater to their new roles and hope you will give them your full and enthusiastic support. Their predecessors have given us much to build on and emulate, not least the drive, leadership and huge generosity of the much-much-missed, late Duke of Westminster.
As a parting thought – a Spring salmon cycle in Britain takes, on average, five years to complete. So the Trust in its fiftieth year has only been around for ten full Spring fish cycles. I am sure that with your active and generous support, ladies and gentlemen, the organization will continue to thrive and prosper for many more of those cycles, helping to deliver the increasingly abundant and resilient stocks that we all want to see.
The majestic, wild Atlantic salmon is a powerful symbol of the health of our rivers and ocean, and of our relationship with the natural environment that sustains all human activity. To me, the salmon is the ultimate aquatic canary. When all is well with the salmon, all is well with the world! So I hope, ladies and gentlemen, that you may be able to help the Trust in its battle to put things right…
FROM HEADWATER TO HEADLAND
Improving Smolt Survival in Rivers and Estuaries.
Over 100 delegates attended this conference, which took place in Berwick-upon-Tweed on 14 and 15 March. Organised by the Atlantic Salmon Trust and the Tweed Foundation, it brought together scientists, fisheries managers and anglers.
We are delighted to announce that videos of all the speakers presentations, along with the question and answer sessions, are now available via the Atlantic Salmon Trust’s YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXsDg09-APY51r5TDZj0LofIsx8xyy8Ng or via The Tweed Foundation’s YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/tweedfoundation
The Conference considered the impacts on smolt survival of factors in freshwater, such as pollution, migration in rivers, estuaries and coastal waters and the effects of predation. At a time when fewer salmon are surviving at sea to return as adults, the Conference highlighted not only the importance of ensuring that as many smolts as possible leave our rivers and estuaries, but also that surprisingly little is known about levels of loss in these environments and the relative importance of the different causes.
A report of the Conference is also being prepared, which will summarise the key issues discussed. This, too, will be available online in due course.
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE
Study to reveal cause of dwindling salmon numbers
— Atlantic Salmon Trust announces study during 50th anniversary celebrations —
— Prince Charles and King Harald of Norway attend anniversary dinner —
— Hardy’s reel sells for £55,000 during fundraising auction, believed to be world-record —
The Atlantic Salmon Trust is hoping to reverse a century of decline in wild salmon numbers by announcing a major new study into their movements.
Often called the ‘aquatic canary’, Atlantic salmon are regarded as key indicators of the health of our waters as they are sensitive to changes within the environment. In recent years numbers have been dropping at an alarming rate and one major area of concern is the mortality of juvenile salmon during their long migration at sea before returning to UK rivers as adults.
The Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST) is hoping to reverse that decline with a new Suspects Framework study, which was announced at a symposium and gala dinner to mark its 50th anniversary, attended by AST Patron HRH The Prince of Wales and His Majesty King Harald V of Norway.
In his speech at the Trust’s 50th Anniversary Dinner, The Prince of Wales said: “Our greatest concern is that today a very small proportion of salmon smolts leaving their rivers return as adult salmon.
“Thirty years ago one in four would make it back. Today, it is only one in 20, yet we do not know why this has happened and until we do we will not be able to put solutions in place.”
Professor Ken Whelan, Research Director of the AST, said: “Scientists are increasingly concerned about the future of the wild Atlantic Salmon, which was once so numerous in our rivers that it was seen very much as a staple diet for major population centres around Europe, including London.
“Just 20 years ago, if you recorded 100 juvenile salmon leaving a UK river, more than 20 would return as an adult fish to spawn. In most UK rivers, fewer than five now return.
“We are determined to rescue this most valuable species and hope that the study we are announcing today will lead to an international framework that will give us the information we need to achieve this.”
A fundraising auction held during the gala dinner generated more than £300,000 to help pay for the research. Star item was a Hardy’s Hotspur Cascapedia Salmon Reel, numbered 001, which sold for £55,000 – thought to be a world record for the sale of fishing tackle.
It is the first time in 180 years Hardy’s has chosen to release any reel 001 for sale, with every previous production held in its museum. Reel 000 of the Hotspur Cascapedia was presented to the Prince of Wales, with 002 being handed to His Majesty King Harald V of Norway.
Also auctioned was a watercolour painting of Lochnagar by the Prince of Wales, which fetched £4,000.
The AST was formed in 1967 with the purpose of protecting the species from distant water fisheries and disease. It was notable as one of the first organisations dedicated towards the welfare of a single species.
Through work with its Honorary Scientific Advisory Panel and extensive awareness raising, it has helped reduce some of the threats to the species. However, with numbers continuing to decline, it hopes its Suspects Framework will identify the exact causes leading to increasing salmon mortality.
“Modern technology is enabling us to gather more detailed and precise information than ever before,” said Professor Whelan. “Our aim now is for our framework to be adopted by nations across the Atlantic, allowing us to build the most detailed picture yet of the threats – and hopefully opportunities – for this species. Through this research initiative we are determined to boost the numbers of smolts making it to the feeding grounds.”
Likely suspects identified by AST in preparing the framework include predation from species such as seals, cormorants and dolphins, the impact of aquaculture through sea lice, pollution, disease and escapees, bycatch from fishing fleets, overexploitation and overfishing of the juvenile salmon’s staple diet, climate change and moving sea currents.
Sarah Bayley Slater, Executive Director of AST said: “Because farmed salmon is now so commonplace in the supermarket, many people are unaware of the plight of the wild Atlantic Salmon for which Scotland and Norway are so famous.
“This study will help us identify the key suspects causing these high mortality rates, which will help us to stabilise and over time, reverse the decline of this important species.”
Ms Bayley Slater added: “Our Patron, The Prince of Wales has been a very active supporter of AST and has contributed considerably towards this effort. The Prince’s International Sustainability Unit has been working closely with us to look at the problems facing wild Atlantic salmon and remains a key contributor to this study.
“We are very grateful for this support, which is a considerable help as we aim to find a way to reverse the species’ continued decline.”
For more information about the study, visit the Atlantic Salmon Trust website.
Ends 26 May 2017
Issued by Weber Shandwick on behalf of the Atlantic Salmon Trust.