Our Strategy: Three Pillars

Following the ground – breaking SALSEA project, AST has refreshed its strategy to encompass the whole lives of Atlantic salmon and sea trout in all their habitats, at sea and in fresh water.

The purpose of AST’s new “Three Pillars” strategy is to break down the formidable task of understanding and managing diverse Atlantic salmon and sea trout stocks from their freshwater origins, where human management is at its most effective, to the sea, and in the case of salmon, the deep ocean, where threats become progressively more difficult to deal with and our role more one of monitoring than of action.

The link between the three pillars is of course the fish themselves . The extent of the salmon’s range is best grasped by dealing with the three habitats separately. This makes it easier for example to recognise that what we learn from the ocean impinges direct ly on what we can do in fresh water, or that improvements to safe passage of smolts through coastal waters have a direct impact on numbers of returning adult fish. The “Three Pillars” concept therefore focuses on the whole life cycle of Atlantic salmon. Similarly sea trout spend most of their life in the coastal zone, but are critically influence by conditions in freshwater.

Pillar 1: Freshwater
Pillar 2: Coastal
Pillar 3: Ocean


This introduction to the freshwater environment, deals with some of the issues that affect river catchments used by migratory salmonids. Conservation, monitoring and enhancement of freshwater habitats is undertaken by government agencies, Fisheries and Rivers Trusts and District Salmon Fishery Boards (Scotland), often supported by community groups and angling clubs.
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Coastal Waters provide the transition environment for both salmon and sea trout when they leave fresh water as smolts, and again, later in their lives, when they return to spawn. But the two species use the coast in different ways...
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The vast area of the North Atlantic Ocean is the home of the Atlantic Salmon. It is where there is (or should be) an abundance of food to enable smolts leaving their rivers of birth to grow to become large predatory pelagic fish.
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