It’s time to solve the mystery of our missing salmon.
Every year, wild salmon complete one of the planet’s greatest natural migrations, travelling thousands of miles to return to the river they were born in to spawn.
It’s a journey this incredible species has been making for more than 60 million years. But these remarkable fish are now dying in huge numbers.
Somewhere on their journey, wild salmon numbers are being decimated. For every 100 salmon that leave our rivers for the sea, less than five return – a decline of nearly 70% in just 25 years.
In our lifetime, wild Atlantic salmon numbers around the world have more than halved. The total population in the Atlantic has fallen from 8-10 million fish in the early 1970s to 3-4 million today. But no-one knows exactly where mortality is occurring. Are the fish dying while at sea, or failing to even make it that far?
The warning is stark. If this trend continues, one of our most iconic species will become endangered in our lifetime.
What needs to be done?
The Atlantic Salmon Trust, the UK’s most influential advocates for salmon conservation, has launched The Missing Salmon Project – a campaign to raise £1 million by the end of 2018 to fund a tagging and tracking project that will uncover the secrets of the missing salmon to help prevent further decline of this iconic species.
It’s vital that we raise the funds needed to carry out The Missing Salmon Project.
The Missing Salmon Project will be the largest acoustic tracking project for salmon in Europe and will track salmon smolts further than ever before. If funding is secured, in 2019 the tagging project will start its work in the Moray Firth – the route taken by 20% of all salmon that leave the UK. The lessons learned from the study in the Moray Firth will provide valuable insights that are transferable to other populations of salmon around the UK.
The scale of this project is critical to its success. If we raise the money needed, we’ll tag and track over 1,000 juvenile salmon from the headwaters to the sea. Receivers like these will track the salmon's journey so that we can understand where mortality occurs.
The findings from this work will identify definitively why stocks are declining so that decisive action can be taken to protect the species.
The Missing Salmon Project is run by the Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST). The role of the AST is to demonstrate how salmon can be conserved and managed to enable their value to society to be realised sustainably. The Trust’s work concentrates on improving our knowledge of these fish, their habitats and their complex and fascinating life histories, as well as the threats to their survival.