The Atlantic Salmon Trust

One Trust: One Goal – To Save the Atlantic Salmon

The Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST) is dedicated to salmon and sea trout survival. The charity works with partners throughout the Atlantic Salmon’s range to research the problems impacting migratory salmonids and secure their future though: Research, Influence, Action.

The Atlantic Salmon – Salmo salar

The Atlantic salmon is a key stone species, central to aquatic biodiversity, an indicator of pristine freshwater environment, and a bell weather for environmental change, which carries information about the condition of the oceans right back to the rivers. In addition to its ecological importance the Atlantic salmon generates economic benefits, particularly to remote, rural communities. The salmon is the highest valued species in freshwater game fishing and draws anglers from around the world. Most are passionate about the salmon and make a practical contribution to the conservation effort. In Scotland 80% of rod caught salmon are now returned to the river in catch and release programmes. But those who love the mighty salmon, and all it stands for, can do more to help…

The abundance of Atlantic salmon, prior to any fisheries exploitation, has declined over the last forty years, from 8 – 10 million fish in early 1980s to 3-4 million fish (NASCO 2016)

The AST’s major concern is the dramatic decline in marine survival in the east Atlantic from over 15% in the 1980s to less than 5% in the last five years.

The Atlantic Salmon Trust

Since 1967 The Atlantic Salmon Trust has been leading the way in research into migratory salmonids. With over £20 million raised, projects have successfully and radically altered the way in which salmon have been managed during the Trusts existence.

Today the area that causes most concern, and is little understood, the coastal zone and wider ocean and this is where the AST is now focusing a large part of its research activities.

Once considered the ‘black box’ in terms of knowledge, new scientific and technological advances are making research into this vast area possible. The AST is focusing on research which tracks salmonid migration to identify problems at different stages during their journey.

The AST is focusing on three core areas:

Programme Area 1: Acoustic Telemetry Tracking: “Do our smolts die in large quantities in the lower river and coastal zone and, if so, why?

To get a clear understanding of what is happening to smolts during their migration we are developing a Tracking Programme for smolts to monitor their progress towards the open ocean).

Interest particularly in Acoustic Tracking is growing and AST is raising funds to help support local projects undertaking this important research and to gather results to give a national picture of smolt migration and impacts. The AST is working towards establishing an Acoustic Tracking Network Programme and we are fundraising to employ a Coordinator to facilitate the network of projects. Our aim is to work with international partners to move tracking research from the lower rivers and coastal areas progressively outwards towards the salmon feeding grounds.

Benefits of a Salmonid Acoustic Tracking Network include:

  • Transferring knowledge and experience
  • Cost saving on purchase of equipment
  • Shared use of receiver arrays
  • Co-operation with projects monitoring other iconic marine species such as whales, dophins and sharks
  • Sharing data to generate a national picture of smolt migration and mortality pinch points

Programme Area 2: Environmental DNA (eDNA) Project: Understanding pelagic by-catch

For some time there has been concern about the level of accidental killing of salmon by pelagic vessels at sea during migrations from and to their rivers of origin. Previous research has shown that salmon are caught as a by-catch in pelagic vessels fishing for species such as mackerel and herring, but the extent of such catches is not known.

The AST and University College Dublin are running an innovative project to develop and pilot a pioneering technique to assess the presence or absence of salmon DNA on board ships using environmental DNA (eDNA). The method involves the analysis samples from nets or on-board water samples to identify salmon DNA shed from the fish through scale loss or from slime/bodily fluids. The eDNA collected may also provide valuable information on the origins of salmon in the by-catch, which will greatly add to our knowledge of salmon migration and distribution patterns in the ocean. Other applications for similar eDNA probes include the identification of the presence of Gyrodactylus salaris in freshwater samples or the presence of the organism on items such as anglers tackle, boats and canoes. eDNA also has the potential to assess the presence of fish farms escapees.

Programme Area 3: Salmon Aquaculture

The AST firmly believes that ICES (the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) has now provided convincing evidence of both direct impacts and major risks from open cage salmon aquaculture on wild salmon and sea trout stocks, in terms of both sea lice loadings and genetic introgression from escaped farmed fish.

The AST has produced a strong position statement which will be published shortly. We are looking at ways to urgently and positively move forward the dialogue with the fish farming industry and Government so as to alter fish farm management practices and improve conditions for wild salmon. Please see attached Position Statement.

How can you help?

There is a great need to raise funds to support research which will identify the reasons for the dramatic decline in salmon numbers, mitigate or remove these impacts, and improve management practices. The AST’s 50th Anniversary in 2017 will promote the plight of the wild salmon and raise funds for research and conservation projects. An International Salmon Symposium focusing on marine issues will highlight key conservation messages which will be relayed to a Gala Dinner for 500 guests at Syon House.

You can support the Trust by:

  • Making a general donation towards the operation of the Trust, this would go towards staff costs, communication (website, newsletters, social media), attending meetings to coorperate with other consveration NGOs, influencing policy makers and scientific and education events (the 2017 Smolt Conference and Small Streams Training Course).
  • Making a donation towards one of three core Programme areas: Tracking, eDNA or Aquaculture.
  • Becoming a sponsor for the 50th Anniversary event. Sponsorship packages range from £10,000 – £50,000.
  • Donating lots for the AST Online and Gala Auctions.
  • Purchasing a table at the Gala Dinner.

How to make a donation:

There are a number of different ways you can make your donation to help support the Trust:

  • Visit our donation page
  • Making a Gift Aid donation, on which the Trust can reclaim Income Tax. This means that for every £1 you donate to us, we can claim an additional 28p from the Inland Revenue. (We can only reclaim tax from the Inland Revenue if you are a UK tax payer.) Please complete and return the Gift Aid Donation Form to the AST Office with your donation.
  • Making regular donations by Bankers Order (Part of the Gift Aid Donation form)
  • By gifting stocks and shares to the Trust. You receive Capital Gains and personal tax relief on the value of your gift.
  • By remembering the Trust in your will. A bequest to charity is free of Inheritance Tax.

Donations from Overseas

The AST is registered with CAF America (501 3C status). To make an online donation use the link below and then type in

“Atlantic Salmon Trust (UKCC #252742)” in the “Organization Name” field.

Online Gift Form

CAF America will send a United states tax receipt to the you, acknowledging your generous donation to the AST which will allow you to claim tax relief on your gift.

If you would like to make a donation by cheque/wire transfer from America please contact the AST office for a gift form and send together with your donation to: CAF America 1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 150 Alexandria, VA 22314 USA

If you would more information on how to make your donation please contact our Administrator Pamela who will be delighted to help you.

Pamela Lowry

The Atlantic Salmon Trust

11 Rutland Square



Tel: 0131 221 6550


Some of the main impacts on salmon survival:

Freshwater: Pollution; Barriers to migration; Invasive, non-native, species; Predation; Disease; Rapid Climate Change; Forestry; Agriculture.

Marine: Climate Change and Warming Oceans; High seas & Coastal net fisheries; Fish Farming; Bycatch by pelagic fishing vessels; Predation.