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.

Collecting The Marine Scotland Salmon and Sea Trout Fishery Statistics

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 generally restricted to the coast where they must be set outside estuary limits. Within this category, bag-nets, stake nets and jumper nets operate throughout Scotland. Poke nets and haaf nets are restricted to the Solway Region where they may be fished on the coast or within estuaries. Historically cruives, which were categorised as fixed engines, operated within rivers. None are currently active.
  • 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
2 Aline
3 Alness
4 Annan
5 Applecross
6 Arnisdale
7 Awe
8 Ailort
9 Ayr
10 Baa
11 Badachro
12 Balgay
13 Beauly
14 Berriedale
15 Bervie
16 Bladnoch
17 Broom
18 Brora
19 Carradale
20 Carron
21 Clayburn
22 Clyde
23 Conon
24 Cree
25 Creed
26 Creran
27 Croe
28 Dee (Aberdeenshire)
29 Dee (Kirkcudbright)
30 Deveron
31 Don
32 Doon
33 Drummachloy
34 Dunbeath
35 Echaig
36 North Esk
37 South Esk
38 Ewe
39 Fincastle
40 Findhorn
41 Fleet (Sutherland)
42 Fleet (Kirkcudbright)
43 Forss
44 Forth
45 Fyne
46 Girvan
47 Glenelg
48 Gour
49 Gress
50 Grudie
51 Gruinard
52 Halladale
53 Helmsdale
54 Hope
55 Howmore
56 Inchard
57 Inner
58 Inver
59 Iorsa
60 Irvine
61 Kanaird
62 Kilchoan
63 Kinloch
64 Kirkaig
65 Kishorn
66 Kyle of Sutherland
67 Laggan
68 Laxford
69 Leven
70 Little Loch Broom
71 Lochy
72 Loch Long
73 Loch Roag
74 Lossie
75 Luce
76 Lussa
77 Moidart
78 Morar
79 Mullanageren
80 Nairn
81 Naver
82 Nell
83 Ness
84 Nith
85 Ormsary
86 Pennygowan
87 Resort
88 Ruel
89 Sanda
90 Scaddle
91 Shiel
92 Sligachan
93 Snizort
94 Spey
95 Stinchar
96 Strathy
97 Sunart
98 Tay
99 Thurso
100 Torridon
101 Tweed
102 Ugie
103 Ullapool
104 Urr
105 Wick
106 Ythan
107 Small Isles
108 Shetland
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 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

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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