The stocks of Scottish wild salmon are to be more accurately measured after serious concerns have been raised over declining numbers.
An electrofishing survey will take place between July and September conducted by trained biologists and volunteers.
The survey is a collaborative project between the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
What is electrofishing?
“Electrofishing is the process of catching fish by creating an electrical-field through water, around an anode (on a hand held pole) and cathode (trailing in the water behind the operator). This electric-field develops a voltage along the length of fish exposed to it, such that “galvanotaxis” stimulates their nervous system, and they are forced to swim towards anode (the source of the field).
At a point approaching the source of the field, the fish enters the hold-zone, where the field is then of sufficient strength to temporarily immobilise them and thus aid in their capture.” E-fish
The project will estimate with more accuracy than before the number of juvenile salmon in Scottish rivers across 27 regions in 800 sampling areas.
Iain Sime, SNH freshwater and wetlands group manager said:
“It’s wonderful to see this project come to fruition. It’s an exciting opportunity to report on the health of the ‘king of fish’ on a national scale for the first time, and to measure the health of Scotland’s rivers that are designated for the conservation of salmon. The monitoring will go a long way to helping us all ensure salmon continue to thrive in our rivers.”
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Rod and Line caught salmon
“Reported catch and effort for the fixed engine and net & coble fisheries in 2017 were among the lowest recorded by either fishery since records began in 1952. “
Worryingly 1% of all caught salmon and grilse have come from escaped farmed stocks and are the highest numbers since records began in 1994.
Announcing the electrofishing survey Roseanna Cunningham, Environment Secretary in the Scottish Government said:
“We are already assessing the populations of adult salmon but this new national survey is a significant milestone, which will help us estimate the numbers of young salmon in our rivers.
“The data gathered will also help SEPA classify electrofishing sites and SNH report on the condition of Atlantic salmon and freshwater pearl mussels in Special Areas of Conservation.
“This ground-breaking initiative is a great example of the partnership working that is essential if we are to safeguard the future of this iconic species.”
Reporter: Fiona Grahame
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