Salmon Conservation

Atlantic salmon are an endangered species. Although their highest mortality rate by far is at sea, the Scottish Government, local fishery boards and fishery owners have introduced various management practices and regulations to protect salmon stocks in Scottish rivers and lochs.

Conservation Status
Since 2016 all Scottish rivers/districts have been allocated to one of the following three grades each with their own recommended management actions. This is reviewed annually so rivers may move between different categories and management plans over time.

  • Category 1 - in these rivers, exploitation is considered sustainable and no additional management action is required.
  • Category 2 – management action is necessary to reduce exploitation; mandatory catch and release is not required in the first instance, but this will be reviewed annually.
  • Category 3 – exploitation is unsustainable and mandatory catch and release for one year is required.

Conservation Policies
All salmon caught in Scotland before April 1st must be returned by law. Regardless of conservation status (Category 1 and 2) all fishery boards and most fisheries will promote additional conservation policies to protect their stocks. These policies will therefore result in local regulations regarding fishing methods, and limits on retaining fish e.g. fly only, catch & release of all spring salmon, return of all salmon over a certain size etc.

Most fishery boards, fishery owners and permit outlets in Scotland are now taking the most careful biosecurity measures to make sure that the parasite Gyrodactylus salaris does not enter our rivers. Gyrodactylus salaris is an extremely dangerous parasite that has destroyed the salmon stocks of over 20 rivers in Norway, and has spread to Russia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

Most Highland salmon fisheries now require anglers to complete a declaration before starting to fish, stating that either their equipment has not been outside of the UK in the past 2 to 4 weeks, or that it has been sterilised by one of the methods described below.

  • Dry equipment at a minimum of 20 degrees C for at least 2 days.
  • Heat for at least 1 hour at a temperature of over 60 degrees C.
  • Deep freeze for at least 1 day.
  • Immersion in a solution suitable for killing Gs for a minimum of 10 minutes. These include: Virkon (1%), Wescodyne (1%), sodium chloride (3%) and sodium hydroxide (0.2%).