Salmon Scotland upgrades wild salmon conservation fund

A fund to support wild fish conservation projects in Scotland has been expanded, with angling organisations now among those being invited to apply for grants.

The Wild Salmonid Support Fund, set up by the salmon industry in 2021, has been renamed the Salmon Scotland Wild Fisheries Fund. With financial support from the industry, the fund aims to invest £145,000 through next year in habitat protection, removing barriers to migration, protection from predators and restocking.

Applications will be invited from fisheries organisations, including local angling clubs, fishery boards and other community associations.

Previously run by grant-making body Foundation Scotland, the Wild Fisheries Fund will be co-ordinated by Fishery Manager Jon Gibb, based in Fort William, in the north west of the Highlands, who has championed a constructive relationship between the farm-raised salmon sector and fisheries and angling groups.

Gibb, an experienced fishery manager,  said: “Wild salmon are under very serious threat from a wide range of impacts both in the river and at sea, and any projects to further understand those impacts and mitigate against them are urgently required.

“Both the farmed and wild salmon sectors have a common interest to thrive in our shared space and both rely on the rich heritage of the wild salmon and the angling that depends upon them.”

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said salmon farmers have a desire to save “one of Scotland’s most iconic species”.

The wild fisheries fund is part of a total five-year investment of £1.5m from salmon farmers.

To date, grants have been used to save and restore a historic dam in the Western Isles that assists wild salmon to progress to their spawning grounds, as well as restoration projects to reduce riverbank erosion and measures to provide tree canopy and in-stream cover for young salmon.

The revamped fund will prioritise applications of a practical nature which aim to protect and enhance wild salmon populations and local angling opportunities, recognising that salmon and trout fishing is at the cultural heart of many Highland communities and provides human health benefits.

The fund will be open for applications on February 1 and the closing date will be March 31, with decisions on grants taken by Salmon Scotland in April.

Details are available at www.salmonscotland.co.uk/wildfisheriesfund

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