Fishery manager Jon Gibb will co-ordinate the new fund.

Salmon farmers spread help for wild fish wider

Fishery manager teams up with trade body as fund is opened up to angling clubs


A new fund has been launched by Scottish salmon farmers to help save the country’s wild salmon through protection from predators, habitat protection, and restocking programmes.

The wild fisheries fund from trade body Salmon Scotland will see £145,000 invested next year to stem the decline in fish numbers.

Wild salmon and sea trout populations throughout the UK have been in decline for decades for many reasons, including habitat loss and rising river temperatures due to climate change and historic de-forestation.

The Scottish Government has identified other pressures facing wild salmon, including non-native plants, predation by pike, eels, birds and seals, and obstacles to fish passage including dams and weirs.

The increase in sea lice populations made possible by the existence of thousands of salmon in farm pens is also thought by some to be a factor in the decline of wild salmon on the west coast, although there is little evidence to indicate what impact lice may have.

Broader range

The wild fisheries fund replaces and builds on the work of Salmon Scotland’s wild salmonid fund, which was administered by the independent charity Foundation Scotland and has invested more than £190,000 since 2021.

In a press release, Salmon Scotland said the new fund will make more money available to a broader range of organisations and projects and signals the industry’s long-term commitment to fund schemes.

Wild Atlantic salmon have a survival rate of only around 1-2%, compared to around 85% for a farm-raised salmon.

The new fund will be co-ordinated by Jon Gibb, a fishery manager based in Fort William who has previously called for the industry to move to closed containment in the long term but has also championed a constructive relationship between the farm-raised salmon sector and fisheries and angling groups.

He said: “Wild salmon are under very serious threat from a wide range of impacts both in the river and at sea, and any projects to further understand those impacts and mitigate against them are urgently required.

“I am also delighted that the fund now covers applications from local angling clubs and other community bodies in the shared space to improve their angling and outreach opportunities. These organisations have often been unable to access significant funding in the past and yet salmon and trout fishing is at the very cultural heart of many Highland communities.”

Meaningful action

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said: “Wild salmon is one of Scotland’s most iconic species, but there has been a decades-long decline on the east and west coasts of Scotland as a result of climate change and habitat destruction.

“Scotland’s salmon farmers want to play their part finding solutions, engaging constructively with the wild fish sector and taking meaningful action to save wild salmon.

Tavish Scott: "Many salmon farmers are anglers themselves."

“Many salmon farmers are anglers themselves, and most people in the fisheries and angling sectors recognise the importance of a healthy shared environment, ensuring fish can thrive in our waters.

“Through the extraordinary success story of farm-raised salmon, we have developed world-leading expertise in hatching and rearing salmon that can thrive at sea.

“As well as financial support to projects, our members are sharing their knowledge and experience to support wild fisheries with re-stocking, again showing how collaboration is key to reversing the worrying decline in wild salmon numbers.”

£1.5m investment

Applications will be invited from fisheries organisations, including local angling clubs, fisheries boards and other community associations.

The wild fisheries fund is part of a total five-year investment of £1.5 million from salmon farmers.

To date, grants have been used to save and restore a historic dam in the Western Isles that assists wild salmon to progress to their spawning grounds, as well as restoration projects to reduce riverbank erosion and measures to provide tree canopy and in-stream cover for young salmon.

The revamped fund will prioritise applications of a practical nature which aim to protect and enhance wild salmon populations and local angling opportunities.

The fund will be open for applications on February 1 and the closing date will be March 31, with decisions on grants taken by Salmon Scotland in April.