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Scotland's Marine Atlas: Information for The National Marine Plan

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SALMON AND SEA TROUT FISHING

What, why and where?

Scotland is a stronghold of wild salmon Salmo salar and sea trout (the anadromous form of brown trout) Salmo trutta. These fish spend several years in rivers, migrate to sea then return as adults to spawn. Marine migrations in salmon are generally more extensive than those of sea trout. Salmon usually spawn once whereas sea trout may spawn several times.

All salmon fishing and sea trout fishing rights in Scotland, including in the sea, are private, heritable titles, which may be held separately from any land. They fall into one of three broad categories.

Fixed engine fisheries are restricted to the coast and must be set outside estuary limits. Bag-nets, stake nets and jumper nets are different forms of fishing gear used across Scottish fisheries, with poke nets and haaf nets restricted to the Solway Firth area.

Net and coble fisheries generally operate in estuaries and the lower reaches of rivers.

Rod and line fisheries comprise angling activities which generally take place within rivers and above tidal limits. This method currently accounts for the majority of salmon and sea trout catches.

Catch data are combined geographically into 109 Districts and further aggregated into 11 Regions. Some Regions are not fully covered by the data survey at present. Districts correspond either to a single river catchment together with the adjacent coast or to groups of neighbouring river catchments and their associated coastline. Catch statistics have been collected since 1952 and are published annually as topic sheets by Marine Scotland (1). Neither the Districts nor the Regions correspond with the sea areas being used in this Atlas.

Net fisheries

Reported annual catches of wild salmon and grilse by fixed engine and net and coble both illustrate the decline of the Scottish net fishing industry over the last 50 years. This decline in catches has been similar in all reporting regions and also mirrored in annual catches of sea trout.

Rod and line fisheries

Rod and line fisheries continue to operate on most of Scotland's rivers. In contrast to the net fisheries, rod catches of salmon have increased slightly over the past 50 years. This is likely, at least in part, to be due to the decline in the netting industry.

Since 1994, the proportion of the total rod and line catch accounted for by catch and release of both salmon and sea trout have shown a general increase.

Reported annual catches, number of salmon (2005 - 2009)

Year

Fixed engine catch

Net and coble catch

Rod and line
(caught and retained)

Rod and line
(caught and released)

2005

21,016

8,107

37,929

46,069

2006

18,821

6,188

38,476

47,556

2007

13,618

6,279

35,583

55,515

2008

11,703

3,957

32,852

53,139

2009

8,206

4,648

23,690

48,136

Reported annual catches, number of sea trout (2005 - 2009)

Year

Fixed engine catch

Net and coble catch

Rod and line
(caught and retained)

Rod and line
(caught and released)

2005

3,636

2,930

10,517

9,550

2006

3,239

4,931

10,058

10,617

2007

2,671

2,903

10,383

11,164

2008

2,810

2,732

7,631

9,666

2009

3,742

5,635

8,167

15,508

Source: Marine Scotland (1)

Contribution to the economy

The overall value of these fisheries is difficult to calculate and has many dimensions. Figures for GVA and numbers employed cannot be obtained from the ABI, as it does not separately assess this activity. Rod fishermen cannot sell their catch but contribute to the general tourist economy (spending on accommodation and associated expenditure) and pay for the fishing experience. It has been estimated that anglers fishing in Scotland for salmon and sea trout spend some £73M annually (2). Net and coble and fixed engine fisheries can sell their catch.

Employment tends to be seasonal particularly in the net fisheries. The numbers fluctuate with July having the most employment in the net fisheries.

Pressures and impacts on Scotland's socio-economics

Positive

  • Tourism (for rod fisheries)
  • Local employment Iconic food product of Scotland (net fisheries only, rods not permitted to sell fish)

Negative

  • Possible competition with other amenity users

Source: Based on CP2 PSEG Feeder Report section 3.6.6 (3) and UK Marine Policy Statement (4)

Jobs (in July) associated with salmon and sea trout fishing

  • Net and coble 117 (2005) and 75 (2009)
  • Fixed engine 180 (2005) and 150 (2009)

Data for the whole of Scotland not routinely collected for rod and line.

Source: Marine Scotland

Pressures and impacts on the environment

Pressure theme: Biological pressures
Pressure: Removal of marine fauna and flora
Impact: Potential for reduction in fish stock species through fishing.

Source: Based on CP2 PSEG Feeder Report table 3.46 (3) and UK Marine Policy Statement (4)

Salmon and sea trout face various threats and pressures, such as those from predators and fisheries but also those associated with habitat change resulting from catchment management schemes and pollution.

Adult salmon

Adult salmon
© Marine Scotland

Forward look

The sector's future very much depends on the status of stocks together with the general economic situation. New coastal salmon nets are rarely opened and the main trend has been for declining catch and fishing effort in the net fisheries. Marine Scotland Science will continue to monitor the status of both stocks and fisheries.

Scottish salmon rivers and salmon and sea trout net fisheries reporting catches in 2009

Scottish salmon rivers and salmon and sea trout net fisheries reporting catches in 2009