An independent group which will produce an action plan to safeguard the long-term future of salmon fishing in Scotland met for the first time today.

The inaugural meeting of the mixed stock salmon fisheries working group in Edinburgh was chaired by former Scottish Agriculture Secretary David Crawley.

All of the main organisations with an interest in mixed stock fisheries are represented on the group. It will review all aspects of mixed stock fisheries, identifying the impact on management and conservation, and making recommendations based on evidence and good practice.

The group is to examine concerns about the number of wild salmon returning to spawn in particular rivers, and look at options for better management of stocks. It will prepare a report by the end of 2009.

Welcoming the initiative, which arises from the sector-produced Strategic Framework for Scottish Freshwater, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“Salmon fishing is extremely important to the Scottish economy currently valued at over £120 million and supporting almost three thousand jobs. It is one of the many important industries that are the lifeblood of the rural economy.

“Salmon fisheries attract substantial numbers of tourists who support local hotels shops, they also contribute through scarce rural employment to ancillary transport and manufacturing businesses.

“That is exactly why we are taking decisive action to safeguard its long-term future. In such a testing economic climate, we must do everything we can to help our hard-pressed rural businesses develop sustainably.

“We are determined to maximise jobs, invest in business and ensure our economy is well-positioned for recovery.

“I am grateful to David Crawley for leading this review which aims to clarify the situation surrounding mixed stock fisheries in Scotland.

“This project forms a vital part in delivering the Strategic Framework for Scottish Freshwater Fisheries and I look forward to receiving the final report which should contribute greatly to sustaining this important sector.”

Mr Crawley said:

“I am delighted to be working with representatives of those who take part in mixed stock salmon fishing for enjoyment or income or both. We aim to find the evidence and come up with the solutions which will help secure this iconic Scottish fishery for the future”.