Scottish wild salmon strategy

Sets out the vision, objectives and priority themes to ensure the protection and recovery of Scottish Atlantic wild salmon populations.

6. Building an evidence base through coordinated scientific research and monitoring

Scientific research and monitoring have been critical for providing an evidence base to inform contemporary management of Atlantic salmon. In broad terms, recent central support from Scottish Government has focussed on stock assessment, aspects of climate change impact, and promoting sustainable development of renewable energy and aquaculture production. Historically, Scottish and UK Governments have supported understanding of the impacts of many pressures including predators, dams, water discharge, habitat quality and certain invasive species. Research has also been supported from a wide range of sources, including charities (such as the Atlantic Salmon Trust), the European Union, the UK Research Councils (such as the Natural Environment Research Council) and industries including the renewable energy and aquaculture sectors.

In supporting this Strategy, the Marine Scotland Science research programme will provide crucial evidence for policy development at a national scale and for management action at local level with a strong focus on the monitoring and assessment outputs needed to achieve substantial tangible outcomes. The salmon conservation regulation assessment will continue to classify status of salmon at a river scale wherever possible, supported by enhanced collection of rod catch data via an interactive database and construction of an extended fish counter network. These outputs will be used to regulate the killing of salmon by fisheries as well as informing regulation of pressures, including marine developments.

The National Electrofishing Programme for Scotland (NEPS) will give site-level and regional assessments to determine how saturated areas are with young salmon to supplement the conservation regulation assessment for management of pressures. In addition, the National Introgression Programme for Scotland (NIPS) will dovetail with NEPS to provide a balanced evaluation of the extent that salmon populations become polluted with genetic material associated with escaped salmon from fish farms. Work on the west coast of Scotland to develop a system for assessing sea lice risk to sea trout will include evaluation of models underpinning SEPA’s proposed Sea Lice Risk Assessment Framework for salmon as part of an adaptive management process. Spring salmon, those that return to rivers early in the year, have had the sharpest decline in numbers and will be a focus for assessment and restoration efforts.

Marine Scotland Science will continue to provide modelling to enable targeted tree planting and land management to mitigate effects of climate change on salmon in freshwater habitats and will maintain unique long-term data series relating stream temperatures and flow to production of juvenile salmon. Marine Scotland Science will also continue to support assessments of risk and mitigation options to facilitate sustainable development of Scotland’s marine renewable and aquaculture industries with respect to salmon. These actions will support development of the Blue Economy while responding to the twin priorities of climate change and the biodiversity crisis.

Support from National Research Councils along with the private, charitable and industrial sectors will be required to generate new information to assess impacts of other specific pressures and to develop management measures. Scottish Government will contribute to the coordination and facilitation of targeted management actions, building on the work of the Scottish Fisheries Coordination Centre to harmonise processes and encourage data sharing.



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