Work to support wild salmon recovery

Two salmon leaping upriver
Alan Robertson

A comprehensive plan to ensure the recovery of wild Atlantic Salmon populations in Scotland has been published.

Developed in partnership with stakeholders, the Wild Salmon Strategy Implementation Plan covers five priority themes:

  • Managing recreational angling
  • Understanding pressures in marine and coastal environment
  • International collaborations
  • Modernising legislation
  • Improving the condition of rivers

The plan brings together a range of actions being undertaken across government which will benefit wild salmon recovery. Examples include improving salmon habitat through peatland restoration to improve water quality, improving wastewater treatment works and removing barriers to migration, such as weirs associated with historic industry.

Salmon are sensitive to rising water temperatures and riverside tree planting projects which help keep river waters cool will increase, while the approach to water scarcity will be reviewed.

A delivery group involving a range of stakeholders will oversee progress of the plan and publish an annual report, while a Scientific Advisory Board will be established to coordinate research and monitoring activities.

An analysis of the environmental and socio-economic benefits arising from a healthy wild salmon population will also ensure the value of the species is recognised.

Launching the plan at the opening of the salmon fishing season on the River Tweed, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Scotland is recognised globally as a stronghold for Atlantic salmon, but statistics show a downward trend in the numbers returning to Scottish rivers.

“It is vital that we act together at home and overseas, using our collective resource, knowledge and expertise to ensure a bright  future for this iconic species and the plan, working with a range of partners, addresses the issue with a wide range of actions .

“Crucially, it is dynamic and adaptable, so the work to support salmon restoration can be adjusted as we gain greater insight into the challenges and success of mitigating actions.”

Salmon start their lives in streams and rivers, migrate to the high seas to grow and return home to spawn, connecting diverse habitats over a vast area.

The species is affected by a wide range of pressures, some at sea, but many within the Scottish freshwater and coastal environments. A key contributory factor appears to be climate change.


The Implementation Plan follows publication of the Wild Salmon Strategy in 2022.

The plan can be found Wild Salmon Implementation Plan

Salmon live in fresh water for 1-to-4 years before undertaking a long migration north to their feeding grounds in the North Atlantic. After 1-3 years at sea, adults often return to the river in which they were hatched to spawn and begin the next generation.