Our wild Atlantic salmon are built in to the very fabric of Scottish history and civilisation. For thousands of years, they were considered a limitless natural resource. These gleaming, strong and determined creatures, travel in shoals across the Atlantic Ocean back and forth in search of food, returning every year to the same gravelly pools that they were born in, to spawn and kickstart the next generation. Now, in as little as a few decades, they have dwindled in numbers to near extinction because of human activities.
The jeopardy facing wild Atlantic salmon is desperate and very real. In every stage of their lifecycle they are indicators of the health of ecosystems from streams to rivers and to the open ocean. Salmon truly are the King of fish, we have to listen to them, understand them, and act for them. The underwater world of Our Wild Salmon may be out of sight, but it is not out-with our influence. We can ALL work to protect and conserve these amazing creatures, and if we all come together, we can allow them to thrive once again.
These films celebrate Our Wild Salmon and the amazing people that strive to ensure that their habitat is as good as it once was, and to keep it that way for our children and future generations. We explore just some of the many pressures faced by Our Wild Salmon in Scotland today, and how we can ALL make a difference to THEIR survival, and to the wider ecosystems they depend on.
Our Wild Salmon: Feature Film
Our wild salmon need free access to cold, clean water. Contrary to popular belief, fisheries management is not about managing fish – what we need to do is manage impacts, pressures and people to ensure that we provide our fish with suitable conditions to flourish. If we get that right, the fish will look after themselves. We have time to make a difference if we take decisive action now.
In Scotland, man-made structures in rivers such as dams, weirs and culverts fragment aquatic habitat, constrain fish productivity and can prevent completion of our wild salmon and freshwater fish lifecycle. Rivers that are impacted by barriers are much less resilient than those that flow naturally. The fisheries management community have invested considerable time in delivering projects to remove or ease barriers in their respective catchments.
Crimes Against Salmon
The need to clamp down on illegal fishing has never been more critical, with dwindling numbers of salmon entering our rivers. Fish poaching is a highly damaging wildlife crime and addressing this is a key priority for fisheries managers, working with the Police. Poaching is not just about taking ‘one for the pot’. It often involves serious, organised criminal activity.
Providing a Good Home to Return to
Our wild salmon need free access to cold, clean water. But our rivers are warming, along with our climate. During our lifetime, salmon may no longer be able to survive. There is still time to act, to provide cooling shade, and protect and restore salmon habitat. This is an absolute national priority, and with political will, cooperation and investment, we can ensure that our wild salmon have a good home to return to.
Just Add Salmon?
For some people, stocking salmon into rivers to boost their numbers is an obvious answer – just add fish! For others, rearing young salmon in hatcheries should never be done under any circumstances. There are times when stocking can make sense. But there are many others where this can do more harm than good to a species already under threat.
The Appliance of Science
Evidence-based action is a fundamental part of the way we manage fisheries in Scotland. We need good evidence to understand where our wild salmon populations are doing well, and where they are struggling. This crucial work can identify where salmon are impacted by specific pressures, and help deliver the best management decisions for our wild salmon.