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Marine Science


New Research Projects to Save Wild Atlantic Salmon

New Research Projects to Save Wild Atlantic Salmon

A conservation charity, whose sole purpose is the fight to save the wild Atlantic salmon, has started preparing for this year’s launch of two ground-breaking research projects. The MSA brings together leading salmon conservation organisations across the UK – the Atlantic Salmon Trust, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Angling Trust with Fish Legal, Fisheries Management Scotland and The Rivers Trust – to fight to reverse the devastating collapse in wild Atlantic salmon around the UK.

The Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST) has brokered vital partnerships with other key organisations in the Missing Salmon Alliance and local river boards to work together for the future of this iconic and essential species. Now, as never before, the future of the salmon has united the fishing world, creating an opportunity to gather vital information and distil it into real solutions.

Scotland’s rivers are home to 90% of the UK’s salmon population. For every 100 smolts that hatch, only five return as adult fish, and numbers are dropping so dramatically that at the current rate, the wild Atlantic salmon will be on the endangered list by 2030. Sometimes referred to as a ‘canary in the mine’, the salmon is a barometer of the health of our waters.

The AST is starting the second year of the Moray Firth Tracking Project, with preparations taking place throughout its seven project rivers. This dovetails with the West Coast Tracking Project, a separate study beginning this year in partnership with Fisheries Management Scotland and Marine Scotland Science.  This new study involves ten rivers between Dumfries and the far north west of Scotland, as well as the Outer Hebrides. Both projects aim to separately gain vital information on the young salmon, or smolts journey to sea, and their migration routes thereafter.

Alongside key project staff, an army of volunteers will be joining this fascinating study, estimated to involve over 6,000 hours over the six-week tagging period.

Mark Bilsby, Chief Executive Officer of the Atlantic Salmon Trust said:

We are delighted to be part of this ground-breaking and globally important study, and we have already seen fascinating data in the first year of tagging on the Moray Firth. It is inspiring to see the groundswell of support for both projects across the country.”

Dr. Lorna Wilkie, the Trust’s Salmon and Sea Trout Acoustic Tracking Co-ordinator is leading both research projects. She adds,

“I believe that the tracking studies will provide us with vital information about the challenges our salmon face during their migration from river to sea, informing us of what actions are needed in order to better protect them.”

Click here to find out more about the Atlantic Salmon Trust and these research studies