Scotland's National Marine Plan

This plan covers the management of both Scottish inshore waters (out to 12 nautical miles) and offshore waters (12 to 200 nautical miles).

8. Wild Salmon and Diadromous Fish

Objectives and policies for this sector should be read in conjunction with those set out in Annex B and Chapter 4 of this Plan. It is recognised that not all of the objectives can necessarily be achieved directly through the marine planning system, but they are considered important context for planning and decision making.

Part 1: Objectives and marine planning policies



Economic Social

An appropriate management and regulatory framework is in place to sustainably manage salmon and diadromous fish and fisheries resources to provide significant economic and social benefits for the people of Scotland.


Economic Social Marine Ecosystem

Maintain healthy salmon and diadromous fish stocks (and improve stocks where possible) in support of sustainable fisheries through sound science-based management.


Economic Social

Better understand interactions with other activities in marine and coastal areas and resolve key issues.

Marine planning policies

Economic Social Marine Ecosystem WILD FISH 1: The impact of development and use of the marine environment on diadromous fish species should be considered in marine planning and decision making processes. Where evidence of impacts on salmon and other diadromous species is inconclusive, mitigation should be adopted where possible and information on impacts on diadromous species from monitoring of developments should be used to inform subsequent marine decision making.

Key references

Scotland's Marine Atlas: Information for the National Marine Plan.
Chapter 5: Productive/Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing. Pages 150-151

National Marine Plan interactive (NMPi). Productive/Aquaculture and Recreational Fishing section.

Part 2: Background and context

8.1 Salmon, and other species of diadromous fish such as sea trout, lampreys, eels and shad, move between fresh water and the marine environment. As a consequence, fishing for diadromous fish can take place in both the freshwater and marine environments.

8.2 Whilst appropriate management is necessary in both environments to realise the recreational and economic benefits from sustainable exploitation of stocks, this Plan focuses on interactions and potential impacts within the marine environment.

8.3 Atlantic salmon is one of Scotland's most iconic species and is a high value natural asset. It provides a quality food product in a premium market and the basis of an economically important freshwater angling sector. Salmon and many other key species of diadromous fish have been identified as Priority Marine Features and UKBAP Priority Species [97] . Some species are afforded protection by SAC and SSSI designation.

Part 3: Key issues for marine planning


8.4 Salmon and trout fisheries are recognised as an important and significant sector of the Scottish economy. The aim is to maintain and improve the environment within which the sustainable exploitation of salmon and trout can continue to provide economic, social and recreational benefits.

8.5 Coastal net fisheries are the only source of wild salmon and sea trout for the commercial market. In prime condition these salmon are a premium product, particularly in the export market; Scottish Wild Salmon was awarded Protected Geographical Indication status by the EU in 2012. While anglers in rivers cannot sell their catch, salmon and sea trout angling is estimated to contribute £87 million per annum in expenditure to the Scottish economy.


8.6 A number of activities and pressures in the marine environment may impact on populations of salmon and other diadromous fish species. Activities regarded as potentially having the most significant impact are:

  • Wind and wave and tidal energy: Whilst there is uncertainty around the likelihood and severity, potential impacts include disturbance during construction, noise associated with infrastructure such as turbine bases, electro-magnetic fields of infrastructure such as sub-sea grid and cabling and mortality through strike by tidal turbines. Delayed migration or displacement of migratory routes may have effects on salmon and other diadromous species and continued efforts to better understand potential impacts should be encouraged.
  • Aquaculture: Pressures on wild fish populations from salmonid aquaculture can include sea lice, disease and interbreeding of escaped farmed fish with local wild stocks. As referred to in Chapter 7, work is currently underway to improve spatial planning of finfish aquaculture and will consider elements of these pressures and improve the framework for assessing risk to wild salmonids, with a view to informing regional planning.

8.7 Marine Scotland is undertaking research regarding salmonid migration routes and the impacts of electromagnetic fields on fish. This will better inform strategies for managing interactions, such as the provision of locational guidance for aquaculture and marine renewable developments relative to possible wild salmon routes. In addition, the National Research and Monitoring Strategy for Diadromous Fish [98] seeks to identify knowledge gaps and direct research in relation to the potential effects of offshore and marine renewable energy generation on migratory fish.


8.8 Harvesting of target species: Provisional statistics [99] indicate the coastal net fishery caught 16,732 salmon and grilse in 2013 and almost 7,579 were netted in the in-river net and coble fishery. 6,114 sea trout were reported caught and retained in 2012 in the net fisheries. Catch and effort for salmon and sea trout net fisheries remains at historically low levels.

8.9 The proportion of the salmon rod catch accounted for by-catch and release continues to increase. Provisional statistics for 2013 indicate 92% of rod caught spring salmon was released, as was 80% of the annual rod catch (total 66,387). The proportion of the sea trout rod catch accounted for by-catch and release has shown a general increase since 1994, when catch and release information was first recorded. It stands at 77% of the total rod catch in 2012 (15,824). Other aspects of the activity such as impacts of gear etc. are minimal.

8.10 Predator control: Seals and piscivorous birds eat salmon, causing damage and a reduction in population stocks. Control of seals is permitted only under licence. The impact of removing a specified number of seals from a population is a consideration in the licensing process.



8.11 The effects of climate change on wild salmon and freshwater fisheries is largely unknown. However, research has shown that salmonids, and some other diadromous species such as eels, are vulnerable to changes in water temperature and river flows. Both factors are affected by a changing climate and may affect population distributions and the timing of migration and reproduction. In addition, there is a link between decreases in marine growth and survival in salmon and changes in oceanic climate. Smaller populations are likely to be less resilient to these changes. Adaptation in this sector can be facilitated by building and supporting healthy, robust marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems.

Part 4: The future

8.12 Improved data on stock structure, distribution, abundance population dynamics and migratory routes would be beneficial. A better understanding of factors that may influence stocks in both freshwater and marine environments is needed if interactions between wild stocks and other marine users, particularly important growth industries such as aquaculture and renewables, are to be fully understood and managed.

8.13 The Independent Wild Fisheries Review [100] was published in October 2014 and contains 53 wide-ranging recommendations for change. As indicated in 'One Scotland - The Government's Programme for Scotland 2014-15' [101] Scottish Ministers are committed to consultation in Spring 2015 on broad policy options for a new wild fisheries management system followed by a consultation on a Draft Wild Fisheries Bill.

Map 7 Salmon and Sea Trout Fisheries


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