AnglingTrust The voice of Angling

Save Our Salmon

salmon crop

The Atlantic Salmon

The Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is an enigmatic species and the basis for a huge recreational angling sector in Britain. It is an anadromous, migratory fish and therefore undertakes the majority of its growth phase in the marine environment but requires access to clear, fast-flowing, gravel-substrate areas in the headwaters of rivers in order to successfully spawn.

Click here to find out more about the Atlantic salmon’s lifecycle

What is the issue?

The 2014 assessment of Atlantic salmon stocks showed a further decline on previous surveys to the lowest catches on record, and therefore action must be taken immediately if we are to halt the demise of this iconic part of our natural heritage. It was recently estimated that a “severe decline” in salmon stocks would equate to an overall societal economic loss of £350 million annually in England and Wales alone.

Click here to read full report by EA on Economic evaluation of Inland Fisheries 2009.

The Angling Trust was voted to lead the 'Save Our Salmon' campaign by readers of Trout and Salmon magazine, and therefore in the years ahead we intend to commit a great deal of time and resources into reversing Atlantic salmon decline.

What are we doing and how will your donations be spent?

The Angling Trust intends to focus our approach to halt the decline in Atlantic salmon stocks into three broad areas:


The Angling Trust believes that it is now time to bring an end to all commercial fishing of both salmon and sea trout throughout the United Kingdom. Individual fish represent much greater value to the economy as a recreational sport fish than as a commercially exploited resource in an industry that supports relatively few jobs and causes massive fish mortality. Importantly, the UK’s lack of action on netting for Atlantic salmon has been used to justify increases in salmon landings through coastal netting by Greenland and other nations. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we act now to conserve the species throughout its distribution range.

Agricultural Pollution

The second key issue to address if we are to halt Atlantic salmon decline is restoring good water quality and sufficient flows in our rivers. Decades of agricultural intensification in both arable and pastoral farming has resulted in poor land management and consequently a variety of substances feeding into aquatic systems. Huge increases in maize production and poor land management have led to vast quantities of soil and sediments entering our streams and rivers, which can smother key gravel spawning sites, irritate salmon gills, and carry a range of nutrients (slurry and organic fertilisers) and pollutants (pesticides) into aquatic ecosystems. It is very likely that a factor contributing to low marine survival rates (and therefore a link between the two key factors to address) is the sub-lethal impacts of pollutants on salmon smolts, which may reduce their ability to transition from the freshwater to the marine environment.

The Angling Trust aims to increase awareness of the severity of agricultural pollution in the UK and intends to launch a campaign for the government to make the £2 billion subsidy paid to farmers work much harder to protect the water environment. The Angling Trust and Fish Legal will also investigate the case for a Judicial Review of implementation of the Water Framework Directive, as they successfully did with the WWF UK in 2010. Fish Legal will also seek to secure adequate compensation for members who’s fishing may be impacted by agricultural pollution.

More information can be found under Agricultural Pollution.

Predation by Cormorants and Goosanders

The Angling Trust wants to make it simpler and easier for fisheries to obtain licenses and protect their fish stocks from highly damaging predation by piscivorous birds, principally cormorants and goosanders. In 2013 we ran a successful campaign to do exactly this and forced a change in government policy by commencing a pilot programme using area-based licensing together with the employment of two staff to advise fisheries. These Fishery Management Advisors were funded by the EA and DEFRA, and the Angling Trust will campaign for the pilot project to continue, while pushing for more licenses to be issues and for a similar programme to be implemented in Wales and Scotland.

What have we already achieved and what will we be doing?

More generally, the work of the Angling Trust has encouraged the government to hold a ‘Salmon Summit’ and there is already talk of suspending netting, while the Environment Agency has recently launched its Salmon Five Point Approach to restore salmon populations in England.

The Angling Trust is a partner organisation in the Salmon Five Point Approach (full document here) and we will be delivering on several key measures throughout the 18-month plan. These will include attempts to reduce the impacts of recreational rod angling on salmon populations by local voluntary measures and producing guidance on best practice for salmon handling, in addition to implementing a proposal to improve private sector support for enforcement. The Angling Trust will also be continuing its ongoing work with its Fisheries Management Advisors to promote more effective control of predation of salmon smolts by goosanders and cormorants. 

We intend to continue to pressure the government and Environment Agency for targeting and urgent action, while challenging the proposals for mandatory catch and release laws for anglers, who already release around 77% of all fish captured.

Contact: Angling Trust Eastwood House, 6 Rainbow Street, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 8DQ
Tel: 0343 5077006 (For Membership enquiries select Option 1) |
Calls to our 0343 number are charged at the same rate as normal landline numbers.
Office hours are Mon - Thu 9.00-5.00 and Fri 4.30. Please leave a message if you call outside these hours or email us.
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Angling Trust Limited is a company limited by guarantee, company number 05320350

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