Tracking devices fitted to wild salmon to record migration routes

Little is currently known about the exact migration routes of salmon after they leave Scotland’s rivers.

Tracking devices fitted to wild salmon to record migration routes iStock
The project will see biologists tagging young salmon with miniature acoustic transmitters, each with its own signature.

Tracking devices are being fitted to wild salmon in order to record their migration routes from Scottish rivers to their feeding grounds in the Atlantic.

A research project backed by £400,000 from the Scottish Government aims to understand why numbers of wild salmon have been in decline in recent decades.

Little is currently known about the exact migration routes of salmon after they leave Scotland’s rivers.

The project will see biologists tagging young salmon with miniature acoustic transmitters, each with its own signature.

Receivers in buoys will record the location of individual fish as they move to their feeding grounds.

The West Coast Tracking Project, which is entering its second year, is also managed by the Atlantic Salmon Trust and Fisheries Management Scotland.

Rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “The revival of salmon populations and the habitats they depend on will provide multiple benefits to society and will play a significant role in our ambitions for the rural economy.

“The suite of measures we are taking across Scotland underlines our commitment to tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.

“At the same time, we continue to argue for greater collective action across the international arena.”

The Government is due to publish a wild salmon strategy in early 2022, though the report was delayed by the pandemic.

Mark Bilsby, CEO of the Atlantic Salmon Trust, said: “The work delivered to understand how salmon smolts were migrating out from ten rivers in 2021 was a mammoth geographical and logistical challenge, met by the groundswell of support from people and organisations on the ground – from those in the Solway Firth, to West Sutherland and across to the Outer Hebrides.

“The funding from Scottish Government will enable the work to be developed in 2022 so that we have a greater understanding of how young salmon are using our coastal areas.

“This practical information is key so that we can better protect wild Atlantic salmon.”