Salmon and sea trout fishery statistics: collection information

Marine Scotland Science description of how information is collected and collated for use in the salmon and sea trout fishery statistics (topic sheet 67).

Collecting the Marine Scotland Salmon and Sea Trout Fishery Statistics

Topic sheet number 67


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.

Reporting areas, districts and regions

For the purposes of these statistics, Marine Scotland (MS) combine data geographically into 56 reporting areas which are further aggregated into 11 regions. Reporting areas correspond to Salmon Fishery Districts where possible. Where there are few active fisheries, data from neighbouring Districts is summed. 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 reporting area 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 this catchment rest with UK Ministers.

Map showing the 11 regions of Scotland

The fisheries

Data is also collated by fishing method. All Scottish salmon and sea trout fisheries fall into three broad categories):

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 operated within rivers and were classified as fixed engines. No cruives 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 multi sea-winter (MSW) and one sea-winter (1SW) salmon, as well as sea trout, caught and retained in each month of the fishing season. In addition, rod and line fisheries are currently required to provide the monthly numbers and total weights of those MSW salmon, 1SW salmon and sea trout which were legally caught then released back into the river (catch and release). Data is published as reported. No attempt is made to correct for 'grilse error', the mis-classification of fish between 1SW salmon (grilse) and MSW salmon categories.

Fishing effort

Fisheries are also required to provide monthly fishing effort data. Net 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 and 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 is currently omitted when calculating a national index for fixed engine fishing effort.

Continuity of the data collected

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

The number and weight of wild MSW and 1SW salmon 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.

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

Since 1994, the number and weight of farmed salmon taken by net and rod and the number and weight of salmon and sea trout released by the rod fishery has been collected.

Reporting Areas
Map showing the 56 reporting areas of Scotland. Reporting areas listed below.

Reporting Areas

1 Ailort, Moidart and Shiel
2 Alness
3 Annan
4 Ayr
5 Badachro to Applecross
6 Beauly
7 Carradale to Drummachloy
8 Clyde
9 Conon
10 Cree, Fleet and Dee
11 Creran and Awe
12 Dee (Aberdeenshire)
13 Deveron
14 Don
15 Doon
16 East Lewis
17 Echaig
18 Fleet and Brora
19 Forth
20 Girvan
21 Grudie
22 Harris and the Uists
23 Helmsdale to Wick
24 Inchard, Laxford and Inver
25 Irvine
26 Islay and Jura
27 Kanaird, Ullapool & Broom
28 Kilchoan and Morar
29 Kinloch and Hope
30 Kirkaig
31 Kishorn and Carron
32 Kyle of Sutherland
33 Little Loch Broom, Gruniard and Ewe
34 Loch Long to Arnisdale
35 Loch Roag
36 Lochy and Leven
37 Lossie & Findhorn
38 Luce and Bladnoch
39 Mull
40 Nairn
41 Nell, Add and Ormsary
42 Ness
43 Nith
44 North Esk and Bervie
45 Northern Isles
46 Skye and Small Isles
47 South Esk
48 Spey
49 Stinchar
50 Strathy and Naver
51 Sunart to Scaddle
52 Tay
53 Thurso, Forss and Halladale
54 Tweed
55 Urr
56 Ythan and Ugie

Quality assurance

Reported data is 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 is 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 has been published as Scottish Government Official Statistics. For more information on official statistics, see

Statistics are published in the following April. Historical data is updated along with the publication of the most recent year's data.

Salmon and sea trout fishery statistics for the most recent season available are summarised in topic sheets 68 and 69 respectively. The statistics may be downloaded at

The associated summary data may be downloaded from the Marine Scotland data website 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:

Marine Scotland Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory,
Montrose Field Station, Inchbraoch House, South Quay, Ferryden, Montrose, Angus DD10 9SL.
0131 244 4500




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