THE Prince of Wales addressed the launch this week of a campaign to try to halt the decline of wild salmon stocks, which are described as being in ‘crisis’.
Figures for salmon returning to UK spawning grounds have fallen so low that conservationists fear wild Atlantic salmon could be lost from many 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, angling bodies, including the Atlantic Salmon Trust, Salmon & Trout Conservation, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, and the Angling Trust with Fish Legal, have joined forces to form the Missing Salmon Alliance.
They will combine expertise, coordinate activities, bring together research and advocate effective management solutions, according to a press release issued by the Atlantic Salmon Trust.
Prince Charles, patron of the Atlantic Salmon Trust and Salmon & Trout Conservation, said in a video message at the launch: ‘The very future of a species that has been swimming in our oceans and seas for over six 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,’ he told the gathering, held in Fishmongers’ Hall, London, on Monday.
The Scottish government’s Salmon Fishery Statistics have 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, which aims to identify key pressures on the Atlantic salmon’s lifecycle in collaboration with international scientists, and directing action where it is needed.
Earlier this year, the Atlantic Salmon Trust launched the Missing Salmon Project in the Moray Firth, which it said was the largest acoustic tracking project for salmon in Europe.
It was hoped that this would provide valuable insights, transferable to other populations of salmon around the UK.
The Missing Salmon Alliance said it would address issues such as predation, aquaculture, habitat degradation and management actions to mitigate against climate change.
Alliance chairman 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.’