Wild Salmon Strategy Implementation Plan Delivery Group minutes: July 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 14 July 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Antje Branding, Marine Scotland (Chair)
  • Jamie Stewart, River Tweed Commission
  • Lorraine Gormley, Water Environment Team, Scottish Government
  • Sarah Robinson, Scottish Wildlife Trust representing Scottish Environment Link
  • Roger Knight , Spey District Salmon Fishery Board
  • Jamie Ribbens, Galloway Fisheries Trust
  • Alan Wells, Fisheries Management Scotland
  • Mark Bilsby, Atlantic Salmon Trust
  • Linsey Mason-McLean, Scottish Forestry
  • Roy Richardson, SEPA
  • Fiona Simpson, Crown Estate Scotland
  • Caro Cowan , Marine Directorate
  • Jessica Roscoe, Marine Directorate
  • Lyndsay Christie, Marine Scotland


  • John Armstrong , Marine Directorate
  • Colin Bean, NatureScot
  • Alison Baker, Angling Scotland
  • Alexa MacAuslan , Northern District Salmon Fishery Board

Items and actions


AB welcomed everyone to the meeting and provided an update on the membership.
•    Roy Richardson, SEPA replaces Nathan Critchlow-Watton
•    Fiona Simpson, Crown Estate Scotland is a new member
•    Caro Cowan, Deputy Director for Marine Environment Portfolio (Marine Directorate)

Minutes of last meeting 

All actions completed.

It was recommended to expand section 4 ‘ways of working’ to reflect the need to be explicit about which papers and discussion items are to be kept confidential and what can be shared more widely by group members within their organisations.

Changes as discussed will be made to minutes and recirculated to the group for agreement. [Action 1]

There was agreement for the group to feature on the Scottish Government webpage, in the section on groups, and for minutes of meetings to be published for the wider public to see.

Marine Directorate will pursue an entry for the wild salmon strategy delivery group. [Action 2]

Terms of reference 

It was suggested to use consistent narrative and wording when referring to declining wild salmon populations - specifically in the section ‘context and objectives’ but also in other future communications. This to reflect the wild salmon crisis and the urgency to take action.

Changes as discussed will be made to terms of reference and recirculated to the group for agreement. [Action 3]

Short Policy Updates 

Marine Directorate (update from AB and CC)

Stakeholders have recently been informed that Marine Scotland has changed its name to Marine Directorate, this reflects the directorate being part of core Scottish Government. The directorate has five portfolios:
•    marine environment
•    marine economy and communities
•    science, evidence, digital and data
•    operations
•    corporate, strategy and marine planning.
When available an organogram will be shared with the delivery group.

The directorate’s work is guided by First Minister’s policy prospectus published in April 2023. The programme of work undertaken in Marine Directorate needs to reflect the cost of living crisis, which impacts on staff resource and finance available. This will have a bearing on the resource available for the delivery the implementation plan, which will be discussed under agenda item 8.

Wild salmon monitoring activities (juvenile and adult) are all going ahead in 2023 and are underway.

The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net-Zero and Just Transition’s made a statement on highly protected marine areas (HPMAs) in Parliament. The announcement set out that the Scottish Government will take more time and undertake further engagement with stakeholders on policy development. The delivery group will be made aware of any relevant engagement opportunities.

A link to the full statement will be circulated to the group. [Action 4]
The north atlantic salmon conservation organisations (NASCO) annual meeting took place in June. Following the external review of NASCO’s performance a “future of NASCO” working group has been established to develop a NASCO strategy and action plan. The multi-annual (2022-25) regulatory measure for West Greenland will continue unchanged for 2023. Terms of reference for a standing working group on pink salmon have been agreed. Iceland will re-join NASCO in 2024. The 2024 annual meeting will be in Westport, Ireland and will feature a special session on pink salmon.

Scottish Forestry (update from LM-M)

Increased grant funding for riparian planting is now available via Woodlands for Riparian Benefits, launched on July 12. The target area identifies 175,000 hectares of riparian land eligible for planting to deliver multiple benefits.

The UK Forestry Standard Practice Guide is expected to be updated in 2023.

SEPA (update from RR)

The water scarcity situation has eased across most of Scotland. Current water scarcity information is available on SEPA website homepage. The longer term strategy for managing water scarcity is being developed and the Delivery Group will be consulted to feed into the process.

Feedback on the barrier removal programme provided by the Delivery Group is currently being considered by SEPA.

Fisheries Management Scotland (update from AW)

A director for nature finance has been recruited who will work to improve access to nature/green finance for FMS members. 

Funding for a PhD on Saprolegnia has been agreed.

Three sightings of pink salmon have been reported. Licences to remove fish from rivers have been issued to some areas. 

Atlantic Salmon Trust (update from MB)

A restoration director has been recruited and joined AST recently. AST are currently developing a 5 year strategy, which will be shared later this year.

Specification for the socio-economic study 

Marine Directorate have developed a specification for a study on the economic, environmental and social benefits of recreational fishing in Scotland. Once the scope has been agreed and finalised, an invitation to tender will be published and a contractor appointed to undertake the work.

The scope was discussed and there was agreement from group members that this would be a valuable study. It was suggested by members that the study should also include recommendations for a sustainable funding framework for the recreational fishing sector and seek to quantify the natural capital enhancements made by the fisheries management sector. 

Reflection – recent working arrangement with science board

Group members agreed the cooperation with the science advisory board to develop the advice for fishing in warm waters had been successful. The advice has been well received by river users and welcomed by boards and trusts.

Discussion on draft workplan 

The draft workplan was circulated in advance of the meeting, and comments were invited. The actions contained in the Implementation plan were grouped into three categories:
•    actions the delivery group leads on
•    actions the delivery group provides input to
•    actions the delivery group receives regular updates on

It was outlined that due to resources constraints, timelines for some actions identified as led on by Scottish Government require reshaping of timelines, resulting in delays on starting dates. Delivery group members were concerned about this, but suggested alternative delivery models. This included members progressing preparatory work on the review of the policy framework, non-native species and wild fish disease. This option will be explored and further discussed in the next meeting.

There was a discussion on the importance of communication between all delivery group members as in many cases workstreams are fast moving. Ongoing email dialogue between meetings including all members is important to keep everyone up to date of developments.

The categorisation was agreed and a draft Gantt chart will be developed outlining the phasing of work in 2023. [Action 5]

Communications strategy and plan 

The draft communications plan and strategy were circulated in advance of the meeting. The draft was discussed with general agreement on the content but noting the introductory narrative and any messages need to be consistent and reflecti the worrying decline in wild salmon populations, as agreed under agenda item 4. 

The comms strategy will be shared with the FMS Comms Group who will provide advice and feedback. [Action 6]

Date of next meetings

The next meeting will be held in September. The focus will be on the redrafted work plan and Gantt charts and a presentation on nature finance by FMS.

A meeting in December will cover stocking, following advice from the science advisory board.


  • minutes from meting 1 March to be redrafted, circulated and agreed - secreteriat 31 July 2023
  • set up group page on Scot Gov website - secreteriat 31 August 2023
  • terms of reference to be redrafted, circulated and agreed - secreteriat 31 July 2023
  • circulate statement on HPMAs and other relevant links - secreteriat 24 July 2023
  • Gantt charts to accompany work plan to be developed and circulated - Marine Directorate ahead of next meeting
  • comms strategy to be shared with FMS comms group for feedback - Secreteriat 24 July 2023
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