Anglers bid to save wild Atlantic salmon amid extinction concerns

Scottish Government accused of being too slow in responding to the threat faced by the species.

It’s known as the “king of fish”, helping provide more than £100m a year to Scotland’s economy.

But there’s growing concern the wild Atlantic salmon could become extinct.

Anglers in Perthshire claim the Scottish Government’s response to tackling the issue is too slow and are calling for urgent action to protect the fish and rural communities.

“At the current rate, the fish could be extinct by 2050,” said Bob Mason from the Tay Ghillies Association.

“It’s the lifeblood of some of our rural communities. Rural businesses, tackle shops, cafes, Airbnb. This is what it is.

“If the salmon goes then all of that will go. Rural communities may well die.”

The River Tay Ghillies Association has now launched a campaign to save Scotland’s dwindling salmon numbers.

It has created a short film highlighting the increased challenges facing the species.

Climate change is a key factor, as well as the threat of predators.

“The main one is the goosander, which is a non-native bird, it came in around 1886,” said Mr Mason

“It’s now wholly protected, we’re not allowed to do anything about it. We can shoot to scare but they just move on, they’re an intelligent bird.

“They’re taking a lot of our juvenile fish.”

Fellow member Robert Kelly believes anglers need to have more input in responding to the issue.

“We don’t get a lot of communication from statutory bodies to the ghillies, who work hard and keep their businesses going, bringing in the tourists,” he said.

“They notice things. We have a communication problem.”

Last year, the Scottish Government devised an action plan in a bid to address falling numbers.

It insists it remains committed to making changes.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government takes the issue of our declining salmon populations very seriously and is committed to working with our partners, both domestic and international, to safeguard this iconic species.

“Scottish Government actions in the Wild Salmon Strategy Implementation Plan are being progressed in collaboration with District Salmon Fishery Boards and Trusts.

“This includes providing over £1.25m in funding for the protection and monitoring of adult salmon populations to inform local and national management decision making.

“We have also made grants available for the planting of riverside trees to protect rivers from rising temperatures and the restoration of natural river flows by removing weirs that are no longer in use.

“Further actions will be implemented over the next four years of the plan’s lifespan.”

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