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Published: 09 Jul 2018 00:01

New research to improve monitoring of wild salmon stocks.

Young salmon populations will be mapped out through the first-ever national electrofishing survey, which will provide a statistically robust  measure of their numbers across Scottish rivers.

Between July and September biologists and volunteers will carry out electrofishing as a method of capturing and counting fish at more than 800 randomly selected sites across 27 regions. Electrofishing uses equipment with electricity flowing through it, to capture the fish, and will be carried out by trained teams without injuring the young salmon.

The project - jointly funded by the Scottish Government, SEPA and SNH - will provide an accurate estimate of numbers of young salmon in Scottish rivers, while also providing fisheries trusts and boards with valuable information to supplement extensive local surveys, which many have conducted for decades.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“We are already assessing the populations of adult salmon but this new national survey is a significant milestone, which will help us estimate the numbers of young salmon in our rivers.

“The data gathered will also help SEPA classify electrofishing sites and SNH report on the condition of Atlantic salmon and freshwater pearl mussels in Special Areas of Conservation.

“This ground-breaking initiative is a great example of the partnership working that is essential if we are to safeguard the future of this iconic species.”

Iain Sime, SNH freshwater and wetlands group manager said:

“It’s wonderful to see this project come to fruition. It’s an exciting opportunity to report on the health of the ‘king of fish’ on a national scale for the first time, and to measure the health of Scotland’s rivers that are designated for the conservation of salmon. The monitoring will go a long way to helping us all ensure salmon continue to thrive in our rivers.”

Background 

The project is part of the funding announced for protecting wild salmon earlier in the year.

SEPA and SNH have contributed a combined £132,000 to the monitoring programme, which will be delivered locally by fisheries trusts and district salmon fishery boards between July and September 2018.

The sampling will cover all the salmon areas which are graded annually as part of the Conservation Regulations Process.

The data will also be used to develop a juvenile assessment tool which will be reviewed by local biologists in spring 2019, with the aim that it complements the existing adult assessment method currently used to set the conservation status of rivers.

Information about electrofishing