Salmon Interactions Working Group Report: Scottish Government Response

Our response to the recommendations in the Salmon Interactions Working Group report [May 2020]

3. Farmed and Wild Salmonid Data Recommendations

3.1 The SIWG recommends that the system for collection and reporting of catch data should be reviewed;

3.2 The SIWG recommends that Scottish Ministers invest in the appropriate infrastructure to collect and report catch and associated data, which maintains, as far as possible, the continuity of data since 1952, whilst allowing catch data to be reported in as close to real time as possible;

3.3 The wild and farmed sectors should publish the following historical data:

  • Results of wild fish monitoring including lice count data or observations on lice burden;
  • Number of farmed fish per farm;
  • Number of lice per farmed fish;
  • Counts from fish counters, relevant electrofishing data and any other relevant catch assessment data operating on local rivers; and,
  • Wild salmon and sea trout catch statistics and catch effort data

3.4 The wild and farmed sectors, working collectively will provide a comprehensive package of data which should be placed on a mandatory footing and should include all data currently available on Scotland's Aquaculture website in addition to;

  • Results of wild fish monitoring including lice count data or observations on lice burden;
  • Farm management area sea lice load;
  • Number of farmed fish per farm;
  • Number of adult female lice and gravid female lice per farmed fish;
  • Medicinal and physical treatments undertaken;
  • Water temperature and salinity;
  • Counts from fish counters, electrofishing data and any other catch assessment data operating on local rivers;
  • Scottish Government assessments of wild fish conservation status (adult and juvenile fish); and,
  • Official wild salmon and sea trout catch statistics and catch effort data.

Scottish Government Response to Section 3; Farmed and Wild Salmonid Data Recommendations

The Scottish Government has a statutory responsibility to collect and publish salmon catch data submitted from local fisheries occupiers. We acknowledge the importance of applying accurate catch and associated data and have previously published an assessment of the value of rod catch data. A key next step is to increase the availability of salmon count data, together with monitoring biological characteristics of adult salmon, to augment assessments of salmon stock status under the Salmon Conservation Regulations process. The potential value of fishing effort data is also under consideration.

As a priority, we have invested over £0.65m in extending salmon counter infrastructure this year and plan to make further additions over a four-year programme of works to bring it to a level compatible with most other countries involved in management of wild salmon through the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), reporting to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO). This project will generate a strategic network of counters to provide balanced geographic coverage throughout Scotland. Data from these additional counters will refine the relationship between rod catches and the abundance of salmon improving the assessments of the conservation status of salmon stocks which are used to regulate fisheries.

We will also continue to invest in the National Electrofishing Programme for Scotland (NEPS), which provides detailed local information on juvenile salmon stocks in the aquaculture regions and elsewhere within a robust structured framework and underpins continuation of the National Introgression Programme for Scotland. The combination of salmon assessments from juvenile and adult data provides the foundation for evaluating vulnerability of populations to impacts of pressures, including aquaculture. We have invested in excess of £1m this year in salmon assessment work, including adult salmon sampling and NEPS (supported also by Crown Estate Scotland), to deliver outputs in collaboration with Fisheries Management Scotland and the Fisheries Trust and Board network.

The Scottish Government is unable to direct wild and farmed salmon interests to publish historical data. The wild and farmed salmon sectors should consider how to deliver this recommendation together and make a public commitment to the publication of the information. We will consider how we could assist with the publication of historic information.

We are absolutely committed to open and transparent regulation and making data available to the public and other users of the marine environment.

Scotland's Aquaculture Website currently hosts information on;

  • fish farm site details and location;
  • CAR licence conditions;
  • environmental monitoring surveys;
  • biotoxin and phytoplankton monitoring (shellfish);
  • escapes;
  • annual emissions;
  • Crown Estate Scotland lease details;
  • In-feed and bath sea lice treatments;
  • fish farm monthly biomass; and
  • sea lice data

We will continue to contribute funds to the Scotland's Aquaculture Website improvement programme, led by SEPA.

SEPA is committed to the continued publication of information collected through the CAR licence regime, including any additional information relating to sea lice collected as the CAR regime adapts.

We commit to focussing on data requirements within the proposed Wild Salmon Strategy which will seek to bring together information that will lead to a better understanding of the geographical variation in pressures and opportunities action as identified by the SIWG in collaboration with stakeholders, including the District Salmon Fisheries Boards and Trusts. We are currently working on plans to develop a public-facing salmon catch database.

Alongside the consideration of data requirements in the Wild Salmon Strategy, we will organise a meeting of the regulators which would be involved in making some elements of such a list at 3.4 mandatory and we will provide an update to the SIWG membership on our consideration of this recommendation in the first half of 2022.



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