Wild Salmon Strategy Science and Evidence Board minutes: August 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the wild salmon strategy science and evidence board on 29 August 2023

Attendees and apologies

John Armstrong, Marine Directorate (Chair)
Stuart Middlemas, Marine Directorate
Lyndsay Christie, Marine Directorate 
Jessica Roscoe, Marine Directorate
Alan Wells, Fisheries Management Scotland (FMS)
Colin Bean, NatureScot 
Peter Pollard, Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Melanie Smith, Atlantic Salmon Trust
Lorraine Hawkins, Dee District Salmon Fishery Board
David Summers, Tay District Salmon Fishery Board
James Hunt, Tweed Foundation


Nora Hanson, Marine Directorate 
Chris Todd, St. Andrews University 

Items and actions


  • JA welcomed everyone to the second meeting of the science and evidence board (SEB)
  • reflection on developing the summary of evidence of effects of catch and release during periods of high temperature on salmon. The SEB agreed the way of working had been successful and the advice subsequently produced by the delivery group was well received

Minutes of Last Meeting and Terms of Reference

  • minutes of last meeting on 30 March agreed by the group
  • minutes will be published on the gov.scot webpage set up specifically for the wild salmon strategy implementation plan science and evidence board
  • language used in terms of reference (ToR) to be updated to reflect that wild salmon populations are at crisis point. The language will mirror that used in the ToR for the delivery group

Discussion on Stocking

The SEB will review the current evidence available on stocking and provide information to the delivery board on:

  • whether stocking may be an appropriate management action when stocks are at very low levels
  • the different types of ‘stocking’ that may be possible and the risks, benefits and evidence gaps associated with each

LH and MS presented a proposal currently being considered on the Dee for both kelt reconditioning and smolt to adult supplementation as part of a 20 year conservation programme. 

The SEB had a general discussion of the science of stocking to scope the area in preparation of detailed future considerations of key issues, in summary the key points were:

  • if salmon populations are in good status it is generally considered that stocking is not an appropriate management action
  • generally, if considering stocking a river, the underlying issue affecting populations also needs to be identified and addressed
  • strong guidance on when stocking is appropriate and what form of stocking should be used is required for evidence based decision making
  • need to identify what ‘success’ looks like and when a stocking programme can be considered successful

Next Steps

  • the SEB will consider stocking/conservation tools for stocks at very low levels – including kelt reconditioning, smolt to adult supplementation, cryopreservation of sperm. The potential for transfer of wild-spawned fry may also be considered. The available science and potential for application of each approach will be reviewed so that the risks, benefits and evidence gaps are identified and agreed
  • to focus discussions, the SEB members will prepare background information and questions in advance of the next meeting, scheduled to take place within 4-6 weeks

Hot Topics

  • FMS have secured funding for a PhD on Saprolegnia, the contract is currently being developed and will be circulated to SEB members for comment
  • as of the end of August, 43 pink salmon have been reported in Scotland. Sampling rivers for the presence of pink salmon eDNA is ongoing, results will be shared with the SEB
  • a group focused on the interaction between migratory fish and beavers is being established to support delivery of the beaver strategy

Date of Next Meeting

  • next meeting is expected to take place in late September/early October
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