Ireland is experiencing a parallel decline in wild salmon as Scotland, where numbers caught are at their lowest since records were first compiled, according to chief executive of Inland Fisheries Ireland Dr Ciarán Byrne.

Numbers of the fish here peaked in the mid-1970s, when about 1.7 million returned. Today returns are estimated at some 200,000. The reported catch is between 28,000 and 30,000, confirmed Dr Byrne, with 8,000 caught commercially and the rest from recreational angling. “We are deeply concerned about salmon abundance levels,” he said.

Reacting to a Scottish government report published yesterday indicating survival of wild salmon is “at crisis point”, Dr Byrne said the same factors are affecting populations in Ireland – mortality at sea, climate change including rising water temperatures, and sea lice arising from fish farming.