Collecting the Marine Scotland Salmon and Sea Trout Fishery Statistics

Describes how the annual Marine Scotland salmon and sea trout fishery statistics are collected and made available.


Salmon and sea trout fishery statistics are obtained from returns made in response to an annual questionnaire sent to the proprietors or occupiers of salmon and sea trout fisheries under the provisions of section 64 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003.

Fishery districts and regions

For the purposes of these statistics, data are combined geographically into 109 Districts which are further aggregated into 11 Regions. Districts correspond either to a single river catchment together with adjacent coast or to groups of neighbouring river catchments and associated coastline. The blank area in both region and district maps corresponds to that part of the Border Esk catchment located in Scotland. Functions relating to the management of salmon and sea trout in respect of the whole of this system rest with UK ministers.

The fisheries

Data are also collated by fishing method. All Scottish salmon and sea trout fisheries fall into one of three broad categories (see photos at the top of this page):

  • Fixed Engine fisheries are restricted to the coast and must be set outside estuary limits. Within this category, bag-nets, stake nets and jumper nets operate throughout Scotland, while poke nets and haaf nets are restricted to the Solway Region.
  • Net & Coble fisheries generally operate in estuaries and the lower reaches of rivers.
  • Rod & Line fisheries comprise recreational angling activities which generally take place within rivers.



Currently each fishery is required to provide the numbers and total weights of both wild and farmed salmon and grilse, as well as sea trout, caught and retained in each month of the fishing season. In addition, rod & line fisheries are currently required to provide the monthly numbers and total weights of those salmon, grilse and sea trout which were legally caught then released back into the river (catch & release). Data are published as reported. No attempt is made to correct for ‘grilse error’, the mis-classification of fish between grilse and salmon categories.

Fishing effort

Net fisheries are also currently required to provide monthly fishing effort data. All fisheries report the minimum and maximum number of individuals directly employed in fishing operations. In addition, fixed engine fisheries report minimum and maximum numbers of traps deployed while net & coble fisheries report the minimum and maximum number of crews that operated. In both cases, this latter information is used to derive the median monthly effort data. Effort returns from those fixed engine fisheries unique to the Solway (poke and haaf nets) do not yield data that can be easily combined with returns from the more common gear types. Data from this region are currently omitted when calculating a national index for fixed engine fishing effort.

Rod & line fisheries are not currently required to provide indices of fishing effort.


Continuity of the data collected

Aggregate monthly data have been collected annually from Scottish salmon and sea trout fisheries since 1952.

The names are taken from the administrative districts as given in Schedule A to the Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Act 1868.

1 Add 36 North Esk 73 Loch Roag
2 Aline 37 South Esk 74 Lossie
3 Alness 38 Ewe 75 Luce
4 Annan 39 Fincastle 76 Lussa
5 Applecross 40 Findhorn 77 Moidart
6 Arnisdale 41 Fleet (Sutherland) 78 Morar
7 Awe 42 Fleet (Kirkcudbright) 79 Mullanageren
8 Ailort 43 Forss 80 Nairn
9 Ayr 44 Forth 81 Naver
10 Baa 45 Fyne 82 Nell
11 Badachro 46 Girvan 83 Ness
12 Balgay 47 Glenelg 84 Nith
13 Beauly 48 Gour 85 Ormsary
14 Berriedale 49 Gress 86 Pennygowan
15 Bervie 50 Grudie 87 Resort
16 Bladnoch 51 Gruinard 88 Ruel
17 Broom 52 Halladale 89 Sanda
18 Brora 53 Helmsdale 90 Scaddle
19 Carradale 54 Hope 91 Shiel
20 Carron 55 Howmore 92 Sligachan
21 Clayburn 56 Inchard 93 Snizort
22 Clyde 57 Inner 94 Spey
23 Conon 58 Inver 95 Stinchar
24 Cree 59 Iorsa 96 Strathy
25 Creed 60 Irvine 97 Sunart
26 Creran 61 Kanaird 98 Tay
27 Croe 62 Kilchoan 99 Thurso
28 Dee (Aberdeenshire) 63 Kinloch 100 Torridon
29 Dee (Kirkcudbright) 64 Kirkaig 101 Tweed
30 Deveron 65 Kishorn 102 Ugie
31 Don 66 Kyle of Sutherland 103 Ullapool
32 Doon 67 Laggan 104 Urr
33 Drummachloy 68 Laxford 105 Wick
34 Dunbeath 69 Leven 106 Ythan
35 Echaig 70 Little Loch Broom 107 Small Isles
    71 Lochy 108 Shetland
    72 Loch Long 109 Orkney

The number and weight of wild salmon and grilse caught and retained by both net and rod fisheries have been collected throughout the time series as has netting effort. Between 1952 and 1964, single values were reported each month for both the numbers of traps and crew deployed and the numbers of individuals employed in netting. Since 1965, however, net fisheries have been required to report the maximum and minimum numbers for each metric.

The number and weight of sea trout caught and retained by both net and rod fisheries have also been collected throughout the time series although the categories by which sea trout were grouped have varied. Between 1952 and 1993, fisheries were simply required to report sea trout taken as a single category. Between 1994 and 2003, fisheries were required to report sea trout weighing less than 0.5 kg separately from those weighing greater than 0.5 kg. During both periods, any reports of finnock (see below) catches were disregarded.


Finnock are sea trout which have spent less than a year at sea before making their first return to fresh water. They may also be known as whitling or herling. Since 2004, fisheries have been required to report finnock catches and record these and other sea trout as separate categories.

In providing historical time series of sea trout data, Marine Scotland routinely provide data aggregated over all categories except those reported as finnock, which are provided separately.

In addition, the number and weight of farmed salmon taken by net and rod catches have been collected since rod catches have been collected since 1994 as have the number and weight of salmon and sea trout caught and released by the rod fishery.

Quality assurance

Reported data are verified against a series of checks including missing information, catches reported outwith the legal fishing season and mean weights outwith pre- defined limits. Where necessary, the data are referred back to the person completing the questionnaire for clarification. The information published, however, is the summation of the reported data. No attempt is made to correct that data for non-returns or incomplete coverage of existing fisheries. Return rates of catch forms since 1997 are available for download, see Provision of Information section below.

Provision of information

Since September 2011, salmon and sea trout fishery data have been published as Scottish Government Official Statistics. For more information on official statistics, see

Provisional data for the fishing seasons 2011 to 2013 were published in April of the following year and final data published by September of that year. For the fishing seasons 2014 and onwards, fishery statistics will be published in the following April. Historical data will be updated each April with the publication of the following year’s data.

Salmon and sea trout fishery statistics for the most recent season available are summerised in topic sheets 68 and 69 respectively. These may be downloaded at marine/science/Publications/TopicSheets/tslist

The associated summary data may be downloaded by following the appropriate links at

The information available for download is the best available at the time of publication. Our records are amended when further information becomes available and updated annually in April when the statistics for the most recent fishing season are published. The most accurate historical data may be obtained directly from Marine Scotland Science. Contact information is provided below.


If you have a specific request for Scottish salmon and sea trout fishery information, please contact us directly at:

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Field Station, Inchbraoch House, South Quay, Ferryden, Montrose, Angus DD10 9SL
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