Anglers are calling on the Government to do more to protect salmon stock saying numbers near crisis point after decades of decline.
It comes as salmon fishing season got underway in the River Dee yesterday morning.
Olympic champion Katherine Grainger, who began her career in the River Dee, was invited to bless the waters with whisky before they were officially declared open.
Fly angler Matt Harris said he hoped today’s ceremony would inspire a new generation of anglers who would work to protect the river’s inhabitants.
“I just think it’s really great because it gets them to start caring about the environment more. They’re in the environment, they’re seeing both the good and the bad and they’re more invested in keeping it,” Mr Harris said.
Atlantic salmon numbers have been in decline for decades, with today’s global population less than half of what it was in the 1970s.
And that will have a big impact on Scottish communities. Salmon adds £15m to Aberdeenshire’s economy every year and supports around 500 jobs.
“Salmon is a really important part of our economy,” said Lorraine Hawkins, Dee District Salmon Fishery Board.
“Deeside is mostly a rural and fragile economy so it’s not just the fishing but it’s supporting hotels and restaurants that benefit as well.”
The board is undertaking work in the river to produce as many juvenile fish as possible but say the salmon are suffering ‘a death by a thousand cuts’ due to pressures from climate change, overfishing and farming.
It is urging ministers to do more to tackle the issue.
The Scottish Government has revealed its plan to replenish stock.
The strategy aims to improve habitat through peatland restoration, improve wastewater treatment works and remove barriers to migration, such as weirs associated with historic industry.
It will also undertake riverside tree planting projects to help keep river waters cool.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “It is vital that we act together at home and overseas, using our collective resource, knowledge and expertise to ensure a bright future for this iconic species and the plan, working with a range of partners, addresses the issue with a wide range of actions.”
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