02 September 2019

Salmon population plummets in River Frome - newly-published report reveals

Salmon Smolt On The River Frome

NUMBERS of adult salmon that returned to the River Frome in 2018 were at a worrying low, according to the latest figures in a fisheries report.

The 2018 Fisheries Research Review, published by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), shows that the very low number of smolts left the River Frome in 2017 resulted in a poor run of one-sea-winter (grilse) fish returning to the river last year.

The knock-on effect of the poor recruitment from the spawning in the winter of 2015/16 is that young recruitment in 2019 and 2020 will be compromised.

This result was predicted by the freshwater ecologists in the GWCT fisheries team, who are based at East Stoke, near Wareham.

Poor recruitment from the 2015/16 spawning season was reported widely across much of England and Wales. Other rivers affected by this poor spawning season are likely to see the same effect on the number of returning adults in 2019 and 2020 as smolts from the River Frome and other chalk streams are generally a year younger than smolts from other rivers.

Research shows that larger salmon smolts survive better at sea than smaller smolts. It appears that a 16cm smolt is three to four times more likely to survive their marine migration compared with a 12cm smolt.

The fisheries team have had a hugely-successful year tagging sea trout as part of SAMARCH, a multi-million-pound project that will provide crucial evidence to strengthen the management and protection of salmon and sea trout at sea over five years (2017 to 2022).

David Mayhew, chairman of GWCT fisheries research steering committee, said: “A better understanding is urgently needed to protect this enigmatic species from bycatch in coastal nets and to preserve coastal areas of special importance to sea trout.”

The fisheries team have now started their annual tagging of 10,000 salmon and 3,000 trout parr to track their movements and life-history choices.

You can download the 2018 GWCT Fisheries Report here.

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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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For information, contact:
Kate Williams
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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