Numbers of salmon spending more than a year in the north Atlantic have declined by as much as 88% since the 1970s. There appears also to have been a fall of between 40% and 66% in grilse, salmon that return to spawn after a single winter at sea.
Figures for salmon returning to UK spawning grounds have fallen so low that conservationists fear that if rates continue, wild Atlantic salmon could be lost from many of our rivers over the next 50 years. Organisations across the UK and the Atlantic have been seeking reasons for the decline and undertaking local conservation measures.
Now the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, The Atlantic Salmon Trust, Salmon & Trout Conservation Trust and The Angling Trust, with Fish Legal, have joined forces to form the Missing Salmon Alliance.
Together they will fight to reverse the devastating collapse in wild Atlantic salmon around the UK by combining expertise, coordinating activities, bringing together research and advocating effective management solutions.
The Prince of Wales, Patron of the Atlantic Salmon Trust and Salmon & Trout Conservation, said in a video message to the Forum which launched the Missing Salmon Alliance on 26 November: “The very future of a species that has been swimming in our oceans and seas for over 6 million years will be in jeopardy... We simply cannot allow this to happen in our lifetime... Having our four leading salmon conservation organisations working together through the Missing Salmon Alliance, with support from both the private and public sectors, is hugely encouraging.”
The chairman of the Missing Salmon Alliance, David Mayhew, said: “This is a crisis. In order to try and reverse the decline in salmon populations in the UK we all need to work together. The Missing Salmon Alliance is a much needed first step and we are now collaborating closely with the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation that brings together governments from around the whole of the Atlantic. I am delighted with the response we have received and we now need to work incredibly hard on all fronts to reverse the trend.”
The Scottish Government’s published Salmon Fishery Statistics have also shown a general decline in large multi-sea-winter salmon since records began in 1952, and a sharp decline in both multi-sea-winter salmon and one-sea-winter salmon between 2010 and 2014. Salmon catches were at their lowest on record in 2018.
At the heart of the Missing Salmon Alliance is the Likely Suspects Framework. It is the overarching framework that will guide the MSA’s strategic thinking, identifying the key pressures on the Atlantic salmon’s life cycle in collaboration with international scientists, and directing action where it is urgently needed to arrest and reverse the declines in wild salmon populations.
Through a combined force of research and evidence-based campaigning, the Missing Salmon Alliance will address head-on issues such as predation, aquaculture, habitat degradation and management actions to mitigate against climate change.
The Missing Salmon Alliance launched its plan for action to 150 delegates at the historic Fishmongers’ Hall, London on November 26th.
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Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
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