South Scotland

Salmon near 'crisis point', say fisheries experts

Salmon Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Conservation of the species should be made a national priority, it has been claimed

Fisheries experts have called for salmon conservation to be made a national priority amid claims the species is approaching "crisis point".

They say environmental change and the impact of humans across the northern hemisphere is putting the fish at risk.

Conservationists are meeting politicians at the Scottish Parliament to discuss the issue.

The Scottish government said it was committed to developing a wild salmon strategy by September this year.

The Holyrood event includes a round table discussion and evening reception, sponsored by Michelle Ballantyne MSP.

Image copyright Richard Webb
Image caption The River Tweed is estimated to be worth millions of pounds to the local economy

She represents the south of Scotland where the River Tweed alone is estimated to be worth millions of pounds to the economy.

Dr Alan Wells, chief executive of Fisheries Management Scotland, said salmon catches had reached their lowest levels ever and nature was "sending us some urgent signals".

"Official catch figures for recent years confirm this iconic species is now approaching crisis point," he said.

"Some of the factors impacting on wild salmon stocks may be beyond human control.

"But Scotland's government and regulatory authorities now have a historic opportunity to do everything in their power to safeguard the species in those areas where they can make a difference."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A wild salmon strategy is expected to be developed later this year

Karen Ramoo, policy adviser at Scottish Land and Estates, said the environment and the rural economy were at risk if action was not taken now to tackle declining stocks.

The Scottish government said it would do all it could to safeguard the future of the species and announced £750,000 to support a project to track the migration of smolt - young salmon - on the west coast of Scotland.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: "The decline in the numbers of wild salmon returning to Scottish rivers is of great concern and caused by a range of complex factors.

"That is why the Scottish government has committed, in its latest Programme for Government, to develop a wild salmon strategy by September 2020."

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