Release of the official statistics confirms that Scotland’s salmon rod catches in 2014 were the lowest in over 60 years

S&TA(S) says that the figures underline why action is needed to conserve stocks

Today’s publication by Scottish Government of the official 2014 catch statistics for salmon confirms that the rod catch was the lowest since consistent records began in 1952. A total of 45,175 salmon were caught by anglers. The 2014 figure compares to 67,500 in 2013 and a five year average of 85,000.

Of the rod catch, 37,139 (or 82 %) were released back into the water by anglers. 8,036 (18 %) were killed. This figure is dwarfed by the 17,778 killed by nets.

Hughie Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), commented:

“Salmon runs are fickle and clearly conditions can impact on rod catches but it would be irresponsible not to take heed of the significant downturn in the last two years which is mirrored across the North Atlantic. The figures underline why Scotland needs to have a robust system in place to ensure that any exploitation is limited to those stocks which have a discernible surplus. In this context S&TA(S) supports the principle of a ‘Kill Licence’ system, as is currently being consulted on by Scottish Government”.

The Marine Conservation Society’s latest advice is that wild salmon taken in Scotland’s coastal nets are amongst the “least sustainable fish to eat and should be avoided”. (See Notes below).

Marine Scotland Science’s commentary, issued in conjunction with the catch statistics, states : “Trends in total rod catch vary among individual stock components. Spring salmon catch (….defined as multi sea-winter fish taken before 1 May) shows a general decline since records began. Although there is some indication that spring salmon catch has stabilised in recent years, it remains at a historically low level. Overall catch of salmon and grilse in later months showed a general increase up to 2010, after which it has fallen sharply”.

In order to regulate and thus limit salmon exploitation, Scottish Government is now consulting on the early introduction of a scheme under which the killing of salmon will only be permitted under licence.

NOTES

The Marine Conservation Society’s sustainability overview states –

Wild Atlantic salmon stocks are depleted over much of their range. ICES advises that fishing for wild Atlantic salmon should take place only where stocks are at full reproductive capacity or above their Conservation Limits (CLs). Unlike most other members of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO), Scotland has not set CLs for salmon in Scottish rivers. Neither is there a management regime in place to prevent an increase in coastal netting, nor an adequate mechanism to limit catches whatever the local strength or weakness of local populations. Consumers should avoid eating wild caught salmon from rivers where the stock is known to be depleted or from any mixed stock fishery, i.e. any ocean fishery that exploits fish originating from more than one river, and does not therefore discriminate between those populations with robust or healthy numbers and those that are vulnerable.