It looks like 2018 will be the worst year on record for catches of Atlantic salmon in the UK. No doubt the drought conditions over the summer months didn’t help but the stark fact remains that less salmon are coming back to our rivers. The Missing Salmon Project is the clarion call that salmon conservation organisations are rallying behind to try and halt and then reverse further decline.

At the center of the Missing Salmon Project is “The Likely Suspects Framework,” which is a way of collecting information on the lifecycle of salmon, working out where and why the salmon are dying so that causes can be prioritised, and where possible, sensible and pragmatic management solutions put in place. These techniques are well proven as they have been used with great success to start the process of turning around the viability of cod stocks in the Irish Sea.

The Likely Suspects Framework depends on bringing together the information relevant to Atlantic salmon. This is where the tracking project on the Moray Firth comes into its’ own, as over the course of three years it will firstly identify where the salmon are dying as they migrate downstream from the headwaters and start their early ocean migrations. From there the project will evolve into finding out what is killing the salmon – “the likely suspects” and working out how much they are contributing to the decline in salmon.

Since launching the project in the spring of 2018 the Atlantic Salmon Trust, with the support of partners big and small, has raised £1.2 million to fund this work. This will allow us to proceed with the Moray Firth Tracking Project in early 2019 and the equipment needed to make it happen has just been ordered. The work will take place over the spring of 2019, with the results analysed over the summer and autumn months, ahead of being reported on in November 2019. This is a fast timetable as we recognise that time is not our side. As such our aim is to get this information out to the public and managers so that we can all better understand where are fish are dying, with a view to improving their management and ensuring that more of the salmon smolts survive the early stages of their migration out to sea.

If you would like to donate to this great cause, please see the donations page or why not get yourself a piece of fly fishing memorabilia and bid on these brilliant Framed Davie McPhail Salmon Flies where 100% of the bid will go to the Atlantic Salmon Trust.

Beauly Snow Fly         |         The Akroyd          |           The Glen Grant

If you would like to find out more about the Missing Salmon Project or the work of the Atlantic Salmon Trust then please visit our website www.atlanticsalmontrust.org or contact us via email on info@atlanticsalmontrust.org 

This post was written by the New Head of the Atlantic Salmon Trust (Mark Bilsby).

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