The provisional Scottish Government catch statistics for 2023 were released today. These are the lowest catches reported for wild Atlantic salmon since records began in 1952, and signal that Scotland’s salmon and sea trout populations remain in a critical state.

33,023 wild Atlantic salmon and 21,907 sea trout were caught in 2023. For salmon, this is a decrease of 25% on the 2022 catch. These figures are announced at a time when we are experiencing the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, and concerted, urgent action is required now to prioritise the protection and recovery of Scotland’s wild Atlantic salmon populations.

Salmon and sea trout catches 1952 – 2023. Source: Marine Directorate Crown Copyright

Dr Alan Wells, Chief Executive of Fisheries Management Scotland said, “The publication of the provisional catch figures make alarming reading and underline the pressing need for immediate action to prioritise the recovery of our wild Atlantic salmon stocks. We now have a Wild Salmon Strategy Implementation Plan and Biodiversity Strategy, and it is critical that the actions identified for salmon recovery are delivered without delay. Co-ordinated action is required to deliver the specific actions that our wild salmon need and ensure that wider efforts to protect and restore the environment take full account of the needs of salmon, including the fundamental requirement for cold, clean water in all our rivers”.

“Many of the actions required have already been identified and can be delivered relatively quickly. This includes supporting crucial work to enhance the sustainability of our rivers, through planting riverside trees to mitigate climate-induced warming, accelerating action to improve water quality and quantity, removing barriers to fish migration and delivering a reformed regulatory system that protects wild fish from the impacts of fish farming. Many of these actions will require a more rigorous approach to regulation and we need to see urgent, decisive action on these fronts from the regulatory agencies who can drive change”.

The provisional statistics for 2023 can be viewed HERE