West Coast Wild Salmon And Sea Trout Stocks

Major fishery organisations move to distance themselves from conclusions of Scottish Government report on restoring west coast wild salmon and sea trout stocks

The Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB), the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS) and Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST) are disassociating themselves from the conclusions of a major new Scottish Government report on restoring depleted wild salmon and sea trout stocks in the west Highlands and Islands. The report for the Tripartite Working Group, entitled Restoration Guidance for West Coast Salmon and Sea Trout Fisheries, concludes that “it is not currently possible to recommend a specific approach,” (for restoration of stocks) “for either salmon or sea trout, because the underlying problem(s) remain undefined”.

Andrew Wallace, Managing Director of ASFB and RAFTS, explained: “This report conspicuously and inexplicably fails to identify the impact of sea lice, originating from salmon farms, as a primary factor in the decline of west coast salmon and sea trout stocks. This is simply not credible and it flies in the face of the wealth of exhaustive research from Scotland (much of it conducted by Scottish Government scientists), Norway, Ireland and Canada which is unequivocal in pointing the finger of blame at sea lice”.

Mr Wallace added: “Although there is some useful work in the report, we do not support its tone and we disagree fundamentally with its conclusions. Regrettably the presentation of the document implies that ASFB and RAFTS were involved in the drafting and indeed endorse its contents. Clearly this is not the case and accordingly we have now written to Scottish Government requesting that all reference to both organisations be removed from the report forthwith”.

Mr Wallace concluded: “It remains something of a mystery why the report’s authors – all eminent scientists – felt unable to say more about the impact of marine salmon farming on wild salmon and sea trout stocks. Furthermore we wonder why Scottish Government is just so unwilling to accept the international consensus on these matters”.

Tony Andrews, Director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST), commented: “We support the main body of the report and the conclusion that restoration of salmon and sea trout stocks will not be achieved through freshwater management measures. We are however most disappointed that, whilst the report acknowledges that low marine survival is the single outstanding issue affecting the production of many populations of salmon and sea trout, it does not go on to tackle the question of the impact of sea lice infestation which has been widely recognised as the key factor responsible for the decline stocks of migratory fish in the west Highlands and Islands”.