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Snapshot to be taken of wild salmon numbers in Scotland

By Gavin Musgrove

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Investment of £400,000 is being committed to fund the continuation of a project that is helping safeguard Scotland’s Atlantic Salmon.

Juvenile salmon from more than 800 sites across Scotland’s rivers were surveyed as part of the National Electrofishing Programme for Scotland (NEPS) last year, using a method known as electrofishing.

It is the first time Scotland’s young salmon stocks have been assessed at a national level, providing a fuller picture of Scotland’s overall wild salmon population.

The River Spey is protected in part because of its importance for Atlantic salmon.
The River Spey is protected in part because of its importance for Atlantic salmon.

Additional funding will secure a second year of the programme, enabling the findings’ evidence base to be significantly strengthened and used to inform Conservation Regulations.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am delighted that the ground-breaking National Electrofishing Programme for Scotland will continue for a second year as it is establishing a higher level of confidence in our assessment of the status of wild salmon stocks in Scotland’s rivers and ultimately ensuring the species continues to thrive.

“The data gathered during the first year of the programme has been the result of significant joint endeavour across the wild fisheries sector and has involved local managers accessing survey sites well off the beaten track in order to obtain a representative sample.

"I’m extremely grateful for that tremendous local commitment and on-going stakeholder engagement in this key initiative.”

Dr Alan Wells, Fisheries Management Scotland, said: "The National Electrofishing Programme for Scotland is an excellent example of partnership working between Marine Scotland and local fishery managers to deliver vital information on the health of our salmon stocks.

"Over 800 sites across Scotland, which had never been surveyed before, were sampled by teams of local biologists and volunteers across 27 designated regions.

"The report released today will provide local fisheries managers with valuable information, which will improve our understanding of the status of Atlantic salmon in Scotland, and inform our collective efforts to protect and safeguard this iconic species.”

Electrofishing uses equipment with electricity flowing through it to capture, count and measure the fish without injuring the young salmon.

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