Saving one of our most treasured jewels from the brink of extinction: In 2019 a group of conservation focused organisations came together with the aim to drive action by combining expertise, coordinating activities and advocating effective management solutions to save wild Atlantic salmon from extinction.
The wild Atlantic salmon is in crisis. The number of salmon returning to their spawning grounds has fallen dramatically since the 1970s and wild Atlantic salmon could be lost from many of our rivers within our lifetime if we do not act now.
“The very future of a species that has been swimming in our oceans and seas for over 6 million years will be in jeopardy. We simply cannot allow this to happen in our lifetime. Having our four leading salmon conservation organisations working together, through the Missing Salmon Alliance with support from both the private and public sectors is hugely encouraging.” — HRH The Prince of Wales
The three founding organisations, The Atlantic Salmon Trust, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, and the Angling Trust, were joined by Fisheries Management Scotland and The Rivers Trust in January 2021. As an Alliance of five organisations, they will build on the existing work of their partners and maximise our impact by taking a coordinated approach and vital action in order to halt and reverse the decline of wild Atlantic salmon.
As one of Scotland’s oldest indigenous species, the Atlantic salmon is a quintessential British fish and is a key part of our history, culture and identity. Many local economies are still dependent on their return each year to our vast river network up and down the UK.
A good ‘did you know’ fact is that the lasting legacy this fish has had on our communities is there for all to see on Glasgow’s coat of Arms – an acknowledgement of the founder of Glasgow, Kentigern’s, four miracles. They are a remarkable species with extraordinary lifecycles – being anadromous, they divide their lives between freshwater and the ocean. This takes place in spectacular fashion as one of nature’s great events – the salmon run.
To find our more, we spoke to Hannah Rudd, Campaigns Officer at The Angling Trust – one of the five organisations that from the MSA – about why wild Atlantic salmon are a key part of our heritage and history in the UK.
“One of our most iconic species is in crisis. They don’t grab headlines like beavers, otters or even crayfish, but they are nevertheless a flagship species for our rivers. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is a quintessential British fish. It is deeply rooted in our heritage and culture, with many local economies being dependent on their return each year to our vast river network up and down the country. They are also a remarkable species in their own right, with extraordinary lifecycles – being anadromous, they divide their lives between freshwater and the ocean – and also being responsible for one of nature’s great events, the salmon run. And yet tragically, despite their high value both economically and socially, since the 1970s large salmon have declined by 54-88% and smaller salmon (grilse) have declined between 40-66% in coastal waters.
Enter the Missing Salmon Alliance – a group of conservation focused organisations dedicated to help wild Atlantic salmon survive and thrive once again in our rivers and seas through science, advocacy and action. Owing to their complicated life history, the reasons behind the decline of this symbolic species are both numerous and diverse. Potential causes range from a changing environment in the face of climate change to increased predation and a reduction in prey. Through the Missing Salmon Alliance, we are working with leading salmon experts to identify the key drivers behind their demise and how they are interconnected through our flagship project – the Likely Suspects Framework. This project uses an evidence-based approach to support salmon management and aims to build a more sustainable future for these impressive fish in the wild.
Not only is the Missing Salmon Alliance facilitating research that will inform management decisions to enable wild Atlantic salmon recovery, but it also seeks to improve public understanding of the threats they face through advocacy and outreach. By bolstering public awareness of the grave situation, they face we are hoping to drive Atlantic salmon up Parliament’s conservation agenda. Because after all, if we can’t save one of our most treasured jewels from the brink of extinction, what hope do we have for the rest of our precious biodiversity?”
If you would like to learn more about the working of the Missing Salmon Alliance, please visit our website www.missingsalmonalliance.org. Every penny raised by MSA is fed directly in one of three directions: Science, lobbying for change and direct steps on the ground. Every contribution helps us to support the health of wild Atlantic salmon.