Wild Salmon Strategy Implementation Plan Delivery Group minutes: November 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 29 November 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Sally Rouse, Marine Directorate (Chair)
  • Antje Branding, Marine Directorate 
  • John Armstrong, Marine Directorate
  • Lyndsay Christie, Marine Directorate
  • Caro Cowan, Marine Directorate
  • Alex Kinninmonth, Marine Directorate
  • Jamie Stewart, River Tweed Commission
  • Alexa MacAuslan, Northern District Salmon Fishery Board
  • 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 (FMS)
  • Roy Richardson, Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Fiona Simpson, Crown Estate Scotland
  • Colin Bean, NatureScot
  • Paul Sizeland, FMS
  • Melanie Smith, Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST)
  • Virginia Harden Scott, Scottish Forestry


  • Alison Baker, Angling Scotland
  • Mark Bilsby, AST
  • Linsey Mason-McLean, Scottish Forestry

Items and actions


SR welcomed everyone to the meeting and provided an update on membership.

  • SR is appointed chair of the group
  • Melanie Smith is representing the atlantic salmon trust
  • Virginia Harden Scott is representing scottish forestry 

Minutes of last meeting 

  • actions 1-4 and 6 completed
  • action 5 outstanding due to ongoing marine directorate business planning
  • minutes agreed by all group members
  • reminder that agreed minutes of delivery group meetings will be published on groups page of the scottish government website

Member updates 

Marine Directorate 

SR provided an overview of Marine Directorate corporate updates:

  • an update on the transformation programme and new marine directorate structure was shared, organogram to be circulated 
  • wild salmon and recreational fisheries policy team now sits within the protected seas and species programme in the marine environment portfolio
  • scottish government priorities are being led by the First Minister’s policy prospectus, Cabinet Secretary mandate letters and the programme for government
  • Scotland’s biodiversity strategy is a key driver for the work across the marine environment portfolio

LC provided team specific updates:

  • conservation of salmon regulations consultation on the proposed 2024 river gradings has closed and responses analysed with an outcome report to be published soon
  • no bids were received on the tender for a study on the value of salmon in Scotland, feedback is being sought from interested parties and options for how to proceed are being explored
  • international engagement through the north atlantic salmon conservation organisation (NASCO) continues


RR provided an update on SEPA’s barrier removal programme. SEPA is seeking input from the delivery group on:

  • how the remaining barriers to be eased or removed in the current cycle should be prioritised
  • when planning begins for the fourth RBMP cycle, what considerations are required
  • SEPA to set up a meeting with FMS in the first instance to explore the above points further 


MS gave an overview of the recently published AST 5 year strategy which will be shared with the delivery group.

Scottish Forestry 

VHS provided an update on the forestry standard which is due to be updated in 2024.

FMS scoping work on actions 

At the last delivery group meeting scottish government outlined resource constraints which would affect the delivery timelines for some actions within the implementation plan. FMS, with input from the wider group, agreed to take on some of the preparatory work.

AW provided an update on the progress of the actions FMS are taking forward;

  • following an initial meeting with members, a stakeholder group is being established to develop recommendations on the review of the policy framework. Invite open to all group members to be involved 
  • a PhD on saprolegnia with Aberdeen university has begun, marine directorate science input to the steering board would welcomed 
  • work is ongoing with join up across the UK to develop improved catch and release guidance, including a focus on air exposure
  • four marine fund scotland grants have been awarded to FMS this year to help support work including eDNA sampling for pink salmon, the second phase of the fisheries management plans project, support for mobile acoustic deterrent devices and support for electrofishing equipment
  • a fish and fisheries advisory group to provide advice to the beaver strategy group has been established

Science advisory board stocking work

JA provided an update on the work currently being undertaken by the science advisory board on stocking:

  • it is widely agreed that stocking is not helpful under most circumstances, except in situations where populations are at extremely low levels
  • the science advisory board are considering the evidence on several different stocking methods including fry redistribution, egg redistribution, kelt reconditioning and smolt to adult supplementation
  • it is expected the board will have prepared a paper on this work for consideration by the delivery group at the next meeting in early 2024

Nature finance 

PS, nature finance director at FMS gave a presentation providing an overview of the opportunities and challenges of nature finance:

  • nature finance is a rapidly evolving and growing area which has the potential to provide support for wild salmon conservation
  • FMS have funding for a FIRNS (facility for investment ready nature scotland) project with the aim to set up a mechanism to attract corporate and institutional finance into a national fund for nature restoration work at scale
  • the project is looking to develop a legal and financial governance structure, a contractor has been appointed to provide recommendations
  • close working with the SMEEF (scottish marine environment enhancement fund) who have a well-developed governance structure
  • discussion within the group following the presentation around some of the challenges and opportunities

Implementation plan progress report 

  • there is a commitment within the implementation plan to publish a concise annual progress report, the first of which will be due in February 2024
  • a commission will be sent round all delivery leads within the plan asking for an update on progress in 2023 to feed into the progress report 
  • a draft progress report will be shared with the group for comment in advance of publications

Date of next meeting

The next meeting is expected to take place in early 2024. It is expected to focus on stocking and business planning.


  • action 1, circulate marine directrate organogram to the group
  • action 2, SEPA and FMS to meet to discuss barrier removal
  • action 3, the AST strategy will be circulated
  • action 4, a group will established to develop recommendations on the review of the policy framework
  • action 5, marine directorate science input to the saprolegnia PhD will be investigated
  • action 6, delivery leads to provide an update on actions for the progress report
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