Leading conservation bodies are challenging Scottish Parliament election candidates to help save the country’s wild salmon from possible extinction.
Scotland’s district salmon fishery boards and fisheries trusts are urging the candidates and parties to commit to urgent action to save the species and protect whole river systems from the growing impacts of climate change.
Dr Alan Wells, chief executive of their representative body Fisheries Management Scotland, said: “This is a critical moment for Scotland’s natural heritage, the millions of people who treasure it in our towns and cities, and the countless rural communities who depend directly on its welfare.
“Climate change, and a range of human impacts are posing an existential threat to several species including our iconic salmon.
“The reasons for catastrophic declines in our salmon and seatrout are complex, but there are several practical measures which we know will make a difference if we act urgently.
“The Scottish Parliament has a critical role. That is why we are asking all candidates and the political parties to commit to three vital measures.”
- Make saving Scotland’s salmon a national conservation priority.
- Fund the planting of native trees beside those rivers which Marine Scotland Science has identified as vulnerable to damaging temperature rises.
- Implement in full the unanimous recommendations of the Salmon Interactions Working Group, which was established by the Scottish Government, comprising wild salmon conservation bodies and the fish farming industry.
Prior to the pandemic Dr Wells announced that wild salmon catches in Scotland were at their lowest level since records began in 1952, with stocks declared to be at “crisis point”.
He said: “We would ask anyone with an interest in the future of our iconic wild salmon to contact the candidates in their constituency and region, asking them to commit to these crucial pledges.”
According to the Atlantic Salmon Trust’s Missing Salmon Project, less than five per cent of the salmon that leave Britain’s rivers return, a decline of almost 70 per cent in 25 years.