The UK Atlantic Salmon Conservation Charities – Who is Doing What?

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The team at Fish and Fly and our extensive membership have for many years supported various conservation charities not least the highly important salmon charities that remain committed to halting the decline in Atlantic salmon numbers. The following article by Jon Gibb was commissioned by us prior to the untimely death of the indefatigable salmon conservationist Orri Vigfusson to raise awareness of this important subject. We have decided to publish the article in its original form and hope this will encourage debate on the way forward, to in Orri’s words, “return salmon stocks to their natural abundance.”

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by Jon Gibb

Atlantic salmon fishing in the UK is in crisis. Of that there is little doubt. Even the most eternal optimists amongst us must realise that most salmon fishing trips, even to the top beats on premier rivers, are an exercise in hope rather than expectation these days.

The Challenges Facing Atlantic Salmon

Bob Dylan once sang that “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Talk to any time-served angler or countryman on riverbanks up and down the country and they will tell you a tale of disappearing runs and empty pools. The work of the army of fisheries scientists and researchers only serves to underpin this depressing knowledge with facts and figures.
It’s a sobering fact, for instance, that the widely-accepted view is that there are two thirds less salmon entering UK waters than there were just 30 years ago.


UK Salmon Catches 1952-2015

While up to 35% of smolts entering the sea used to return to our rivers to breed, now that figure could be under 5% on most rivers. The only reason that rod catches have not collapsed completely is that 250,000 salmon used to be netted around our coastline. Over the years many of these netting stations have been closed down on conservation grounds. However the expected extra spawning salmon have simply disappeared, and their absence in the rod returns of rivers simply denotes the enormous ‘black hole’ that has appeared in the Atlantic Salmon population returning to natal UK waters to spawn.

In scientific circles the salmon is known as an ‘indicator species’: They travel the high seas on their oceanic migration picking up clues along the way, which they bring back to freshwater where they can tell us what is happening in the distant waters of the North East Atlantic. And what they have told us so far is that there is no reason to feel that their downward trajectory is about to change any time soon. The ocean is warming at an alarming rate and this will almost certainly affect the salmon’s food quality and availability for some years to come. It is hard to see how this will result in anything other than an extended crisis for the UK salmon fishing industry.


Salmo salar smolts. Credit: E. Peter Steenstra/USFWS

But us anglers are a generous-spirited and benevolent lot; some may even say beyond all rational thinking. If there is even the slightest possibility of saving the species that we all revere so much most of us will do everything in our power to do so – that deep and heart-stopping pull of the salmon as he sucks in the fly arcing across the river is lethally addictive and, like many other drugs, has been known to drive many sane people to spend vast sums of time and money in their craving for another hit. It could be just this obsession that ends up being the eleventh-hour saviour of Salmo salar.

Working as a salmon fishery manager in Scotland the question I am probably asked most frequently by despondent and worried anglers is “What can we do about it all? And which organisations should I be supporting if there is anything that can be done?


The Cast and Who is Doing What?

There are without doubt a great many organisations and individuals working in the salmon management world trying to untangle the mysteries of the high seas while at the same time controlling the plethora of impacts that are known to impact numbers closer to home.

In Scotland the network of Fishery Boards and Trusts (overseen by the professional body of Fisheries Management Scotland Fisheries Management Scotland) are engaged in a wide range of local initiatives and government lobbying to protect salmon. In England similar work is undertaken by the Environment Agency (www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency), fishery owners and angling clubs. In Northern Ireland the same role is covered by the Loughs Agency (www.loughs-agency.org). This work represents the very necessary ‘bread and butter’ of fisheries management but inevitably focusses primarily on the freshwater and near-estuary phase of the salmon’s lifecycle. Arguably though, the main problem now lies elsewhere.

This is where the range of independent salmon conservation charities fill a much-needed role in our quest for knowledge and viable solutions. But who is doing what and which ones are going to give any deeply worried salmon angler who wants to contribute, the most ‘bang for his or her buck’?





Salmon and Trout Conservation UK (www.salmon-trout.org) is the most overtly ‘campaigning’ action group in the country today. Formed over 100 years ago they have a long history of running sustained campaigns against industry, poor land management and other polluting influences on freshwater salmon abundance. In recent times their most high-profile success has been their contribution to the cessation of coastal netting in UK waters, particularly off the coast of Scotland. Due in part to S&TC’s influence in Europe and their particular expertise on the subject, the Scottish Government were forced into a corner over salmon netting and in 2015 they announced a three-year moratorium on coastal nets. This may have come just in time: Stocks have continued to decline in spite of the extra fish having being saved and it seems likely that the netting ban will continue beyond 2018.


Salmon nets, Sandyhills Bay cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Ann Cook – geograph.org.uk/p/259481

Arguably a victim of its own success, S&TC appears to be lacking a clear remit north of the border since its victory with netting. At the time of writing a request for their latest plan of action and funding requirements met with no response, which was surprising and perhaps indicates a lull in their current activities. Nevertheless it is known that they are planning to launch an aggressive campaign to attempt to restore the sea trout populations of Loch Maree in Wester Ross by persuading regulators and industry to relocate the fish farm in Loch Ewe. It should be said however that this adversarial approach is well-trodden ground and one that others who have been involved in the aquaculture debate are gradually moving away from towards a more collaborative-style approach, mindful of the political reality that fish farming in Scotland is a massive £2 billion industry employing 8000 people in remote rural communities.
Nevertheless S&TC will spend your money wisely if you are particularly worried about local freshwater influences from land use in England or the impacts on Scottish sea trout from salmon farming – and you also believe that a direct and fairly hostile approach against seemingly intractable problems is the best (and perhaps the only) way to get results.





South of the border, the Angling Trust (www.anglingtrust.net) has been busy since 2015 fronting the efforts of Trout & Salmon magazine’s ‘Save our Salmon’ campaign. This resulted in a Salmon Summit being organised in November of that year which included the Environment Agency (EA) who announced a Five Point Approach to addressing the issues facing salmon, pledging to improve marine survival; reduce exploitation by nets and rods; remove barriers to migration/enhance habitat; improve water quality; and safeguard sufficient flows.


Jumping salmon on the Ettrick Water at Murray’s Cauld, Philiphaugh cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Walter Baxter – geograph.org.uk/p/3191883

A set of proposals negotiated with the EA and now approved by their National Board include, “… a 5 or 10-year ban of all netting of fish returning to rivers predicted to be ‘at risk’ or ‘probably at risk’ including all mixed stock fishing, such as the drift nets (due to be phased out in 2022) and the T & J nets off the North-East coast which take vast numbers of fish returning to rivers in both Scotland and England.” In its own words the Angling Trust says, “These fisheries threaten all salmon rivers around the country because they put international agreements with the Greenlanders and Faroese at risk, so it is extremely good news that they might at last be closed.”

In their role as the national representative body for all anglers in England, they have also secured the EA’s support for a preference for voluntary angler support as opposed to the mandatory introduction of catch and release measures across 3-tiered level of risk-assessed English rivers. It should be added that many rivers already voluntarily practice a high catch and release percentage but there are others where it is only in the 50-60% bracket where they’d like to encourage an increase.





Meanwhile the Atlantic Salmon Trust (www.atlanticsalmontrust.org) – another established stalwart of salmon conservation having celebrated its 50th Anniversary this year – has recently launched a new fundraising drive to underpin a comprehensive programme of action. Their ambitious plans are worthy of our attention, especially as their sights are being set beyond the shores of the UK and on to the salmon’s marine migration paths towards their oceanic feeding grounds.


Migrations paths of Atlantic Salmon. Credit: Atlantic Salmon Federation.

They are a small operation with huge ambitions and aim to raise £500,000 per annum to deliver on their aspirations – personal contributions from as little as £20 per annum are welcomed to become a ‘Friend of the Trust’, while a small group of high net worth individuals will form the ‘Presidents Club’ and are invited to contribute upwards of £5000 per annum over 5 years. A recent scientific symposium, dinner and auction hosted by their patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, at Sion House in London raised over £400,000 in funds. For those wishing to leave a legacy in a will to ensure the survival of the species in the future, the AST are also aiming to grow a £3 million Endowment Fund.

The AST’s scientific director Professor Ken Whelan recently stated that the number of salmon that die in rivers and at sea could be halved if all the threats were identified and then managed or removed. “It’s like a relay race with hurdles“, he said recently, “And it just depends how many hurdles we can take down.”


Loch Ainort fish farm The salmon farm is operated by Marine Harvest.
Credit: Richard Dorrell [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


One of the key ways the AST aim to do this is to start with producing a mathematical but easily understandable model affecting salmon stocks – they are calling it the Suspects Model – and this they hope will identify the most important and immediate threats and thus ensure that resources are being spent in the most targeted and effective manner. For instance, early work facilitated by their new Acoustic Tracking Coordinator Dr Matt Newton is already indicating that freshwater predation of smolts by piscivorous birds and brown trout may be far higher than initially thought (a staggering 35 to 60% loss has been found the first year of investigation on several Scottish rivers). Further work to assess the impact of by-catch of post smolt salmon by trawlers, as well as a comprehensive process of negotiation with the major fish farm companies and leading supermarkets, is already underway in 2017. Further major investigations are planned for the coming years looking at the true impacts of changing sea temperatures on food availability, competition and predation in the high seas.





At this point it would be remiss not to also mention the work of the Atlantic Salmon Federation (www.asf.ca) on the other side of the Atlantic, who champion the species across its North American range as well as out to sea. They lobby government, carry out practical river restoration projects and as with most others, provide for science and research to further their cause.


Atlantic salmon parr emerging from streambed. Credit: E. Peter Steenstra/U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region

But does all this research really make any difference if there is nothing we can do about it?

Delivering Solutions

I think it was Churchill who once said that “scientists should be on tap but never on top” and nowhere is this truer than in salmon fishery management. It would be very easy to spend all of the scant available funding on endless research without saving a single extra salmon. The solution lies in practical-minded managers using scientific findings to take direct action against the specific impacts found to be facing salmon. Increasingly though these change-makers are going to have to be people working at a truly international level with cross-border negotiating experience and skills.

Take for example the emerging data about the impact of pelagic fish stocks. World renowned Norwegian marine biologist Jens Christian Holst has amassed some very compelling data to suggest that it is in fact the unprecedented explosion of pelagic fish stocks such as mackerel all over the NE Atlantic that is quite literally ‘eating foraging salmon out of house and home’ and resulting in historically low returns to natal rivers. The talk is available to view below and I would strongly advise anyone to watch and listen to it to understand that salmon survival needs to be understood in a holistic manner.


Holst’s hypothesis looks at the whole ecosystem impacts on salmon rather than just through the prism of simple salmon biology. It will doubtlessly need more exploration but should his mackerel ‘over-grazing and under-exploitation’ turn out to be a key culprit in the current salmon decline it may well be that the whole quota system for high seas marine fisheries will need to be addressed at the very highest international level. Encouragingly though – for this impact there is a solution, unlike many of the other effects of climate change.

So Who Would Be Best Placed to Operate at Such a Level?



This is when our attentions should be naturally drawn towards that proven international salmon charity – the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (www.nasfworldwide.com) – run by that Icelandic giant of salmon conservation Orri Vigfusson.

Vigfusson has a long history of dealing with the salmon fishing industry in many countries – for the last 3 decades this award-winning entrepreneur and environmentalist has brought about monumental change through negotiating netting buyouts and arranging alternative sources of income for indigenous salmon netsmen. The absolute focus of his organisation is on creating salmon abundance. He has long argued that it is only through salmon abundance (rather than lesser scientific-orientated objectives such as ‘minimum spawning targets’) that we can create diversity as well as sustainable and profitable sport fisheries.



Between 15 and 20 closed-containment systems in the sea are now in operation in various fjords in Norway and many conservation groups believe these producers can equal or beat the cost of open-cage farms. His organisation’s track record speaks for itself. NASF has been behind all the critical and game-changing events of the last 20 years – the buyouts of the Icelandic, Greenlander, English and Irish drift net fisheries to name just a few – as well as being a highly effective international lobbying force in the corridors of power in the salmon producing nations (a recent bruising encounter with the Scottish Government helped bring about the current ban on Scottish netting). With a current campaign targeting the end of the remaining English and Norwegian salmon netting and the relocation of salmon farms to recirculated enclosed systems, NASF are also in the process of drawing up a comprehensive game plan for the coming years. One thing is for sure for potential donors – Orri Vigfusson will use his entrepreneurial skills to ante up your money to the full and NASF can be relied upon to never lose sight of its clear objectives while engaging in truly practical measures that aim to get in more fish in rivers and more bends in rods.

And in such uncertain times for the future of Atlantic salmon, and possibly even the very viability of many UK salmon fisheries, who better to put our trust in to bring us back from the brink? Perhaps, as they say, the night really is darkest just before the dawn.



>> Join the conversation


We want to hear your thoughts and comments on this topic so please do join the conversation and post your thoughts on this thread primarily hosted in our Salmon Fishing Forum News pages at www.salmonfishingforum.com.

Alternatively you can also join in the discussion on your local fly fishing forum in North America – www.theflyfishingforum.com or www.flyfishing.co.uk for the UK & Europe.



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goosander

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Interesting but could some not get together and have more clout. Seams to me that there are to many groups with the offices and staff who's costs could be better put to use.
Bob
 

innes

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It should be said however that this adversarial approach is well-trodden ground and one that others who have been involved in the aquaculture debate are gradually moving away from towards a more collaborative-style approach, mindful of the political reality that fish farming in Scotland is a massive £2 billion industry employing 8000 people in remote rural communities.

Jon Gibb's assertion in his remarks on the S&TC that the industry employs 8000 people in remote communities is absolute nonsense and I can't think why someone aspiring to be a respected commentator should use that figure. 12-1500 direct,local jobs is the accepted figure and most of these will be on or near the basic wage.
 
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hochaye

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Jon Gibb's assertion in his remarks on the S&TC that the industry employs 8000 people in remote communities is absolute nonsense and I can't think why someone aspiring to be a respected commentator should use that figure. 12-1500 direct,local jobs is the accepted figure and most of these will be on or near the basic wage.[/QUOTE]

Innes "12-1500 direct,local jobs is the accepted figure and most of these will be on or near the basic wage." Do you know how much of that number is actual local labour and not "draughted in" foreign labour?.....just asking!

Also, to start saving whats left of wild stocks....cull the predators that have no natural predators of their own. I don't mean cull just for the sake of salmon, I mean cull for food too. We do it to dear, cows, sheep etc every day. So why not seals etc and save a lot of fish species. That would do for a start and then work it back from there. Easiest option first
 

goosander

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Just read another article in todays Herald from the blind Dr Jaffa how salmon farms are no problem for the wild fish. It is quite an interesting article in how he chooses his words and examples. Can not figure out how 8,000 jobs are at stake in the salmon farming. Seams an awful lot to me. Perhaps Roag Fisher can up date us on that.
Bob
 

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Let's not argue over the numbers....

The figure of 8,000 jobs is generalised by a quote on the Scottish salmon producers organisation's own website from 2015 which goes on to forecast 10,000 jobs by 2020. There will be different numbers from difference sources so let's leave it at that please. This is not the major thrust of this article as you can see, just supporting information so let's not get side-tracked by it.

The more interesting observation made by goosander and worthy of more debate here I would say is whether any and all of the organisations mentioned might be able to increase their effectiveness by working more closely together. Obviously there have been and are joint projects already which is great to see, but still each body strongly defends their individuality currently which is why the author has looked at how they might spend your donations to try and help us understand which might match our own ambitions most closely.

Do YOU have any stronger allegiances to one over the others and if so why please? All of them have the interests of the salmon at heart so let's keep this discussion positive and engaging.

Thanks

Paul
 

ibm59

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The figure of 8,000 jobs is generalised by a quote on the Scottish salmon producers organisation's own website from 2015 which goes on to forecast 10,000 jobs by 2020. There will be different numbers from difference sources so let's leave it at that please. This is not the major thrust of this article as you can see, just supporting information so let's not get side-tracked by it.

With respect , Paul , the employment figures for fake salmon farming / processing are far from a side issue..
They are constantly used by the farmers , government , and some on here to justify the continued operation of this filthy business in its current form.

With regard to the rest of your post , are you now really going to direct which direction a discussion may , or may not , take ?
 

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With respect , Paul , the employment figures for fake salmon farming / processing are far from a side issue..
They are constantly used by the farmers , government , and some on here to justify the continued operation of this filthy business in its current form.

With regard to the rest of your post , are you now really going to direct which direction a discussion may , or may not , take ?

Like any other thread that is in danger of going off-topic I am just steering this one back in the direction we (as the OP's in this instance) wish it to take - this thread is not about salmon farming, it is about the different salmon charities and conservation organisations out there. If you wish to discuss this further you are free to PM me.

The main question we were seeking to answer in commissioning this piece was "But who is doing what and which ones are going to give any deeply worried salmon angler who wants to contribute, the most ‘bang for his or her buck’?"


 

ibm59

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Like any other thread that is in danger of going off-topic I am just steering this one back in the direction we (as the OP's in this instance) wish it to take - this thread is not about salmon farming, it is about the different salmon charities and conservation organisations out there. If you wish to discuss this further you are free to PM me.


And yet parts of the text and a number of images do concern salmon farming..

But , hey . It's your ball.........
 
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mows

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Personally, I think its quite a disappointing article.
As usual, cherry picking examples and cases to prove points rather than using facts.

"While up to 35% of smolts entering the sea used to return to our rivers to breed, now that figure could be under 5% on most rivers. "

So was it 35% smolts across a river, or most rivers as the 5% relates to.

Have overall smolt figures officially dropped from 35% returning to 5%?

Ive still to see the science behind the 35% figure.

Is it not just as important on quality and number of smolts leaving the river than just% returning.

I have a feeling that if 35% of smolts returned to the Fyne, it would still be dead!!

Doesn't mean that everything is right wrt smolts, but why not use facts.

This doesn't take away the fact that the current smolt tracking in the rivers is a good thing, just a shame that the sample numbers are so small, which could lead to big variances in the results.

"The only reason that rod catches have not collapsed completely is that 250,000 salmon used to be netted around our coastline"

This sounds good, but im not sure it stands up to scrutiny.
The nets were off at Usan last year, with no positive effect on the Northie counter.

Now it could be that the Northie would have been even worse if the nets had still been there, but in reality, there seems to have been little if no collaboration between removing nets and in river salmon increases over the years.


"It should be said however that this adversarial approach is well-trodden ground and one that others who have been involved in the aquaculture debate are gradually moving away from towards a more collaborative-style approach, mindful of the political reality that fish farming in Scotland is a massive £2 billion industry employing 8000 people in remote rural communities."


In principle, collaboration would be the way forward, but that implies both parties willing to work together.

How is that collaboration working for the Lochy just now? In what seems to be a good year in the East, the Lochy seems to be seriously struggling.

Its also a huge industry in Norway, yet they seem to have less issues than our west coast, simply because we let the Norwegian owned companies, behave different to how they would in their own country.
In what way is that correct?



"Take for example the emerging data about the impact of pelagic fish stocks. World renowned Norwegian marine biologist Jens Christian Holst has amassed some very compelling data to suggest that it is in fact the unprecedented explosion of pelagic fish stocks such as mackerel all over the NE Atlantic that is quite literally ‘eating foraging salmon out of house and home’ and resulting in historically low returns to natal rivers. The talk is available to view below and I would strongly advise anyone to watch and listen to it to understand that salmon survival needs to be understood in a holistic manner."

What emerging data?
I don't see any fact or figures there, only a hypothesis, that because there is more available food than ever in the sea. Somehow, salmon will starve, whilst Mackerel and Herring will increase, Even, though young ones are staple salmon food.

None of the points mentioned in the report seem to address the different numbers of returning fish to neighboring rivers. Ie North Esk - South Esk, or Dee - Don.

"The AST’s scientific director Professor Ken Whelan recently stated that the number of salmon that die in rivers and at sea could be halved if all the threats were identified and then managed or removed. “It’s like a relay race with hurdles“, he said recently, “And it just depends how many hurdles we can take down.”

The most sensible comment of all.
However, we still cant even be bothered to count how much salmon actually return, and instead rely on catch returns, often deliberately without correlation to effort, or quantifying what % is actually caught or how many are caught several times.

As per Goosanders post, you would think there could be better collaboration between the groups.

Its good that they are there, but for me it always feels like they are chasing someones personal opinions or theory, rather than looking at all the issues in a calm, orderly and controlled manner.

Even now that it seems, maybe its not " ALL AT SEA"
We still seem to be looking mainly at sea.

Cheers

Mows
 

seeking

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Let's not argue over the numbers

...This is not the major thrust of this article as you can see, just supporting information so let's not get side-tracked by it...

Do YOU have any stronger allegiances to one over the others and if so why please? All of them have the interests of the salmon at heart so let's keep this discussion positive and engaging...

But it is all about numbers. Jon Gibb’s original article appears flawed, in the same way as some of the so-called “SCS” (salmon conservation sector) bumpf that comes after it. ICES PFA estimates are fundamentally flawed. The numbers don’t seem to add up, nor explain why some salmon populations in certain rivers and areas do well and other’s don’t. Why as recently as 2004-2012 we had record catch levels...

Unfortunately many of these SCS outfits appear to make the claim that salmon are under unsustainable pressure at sea, or their population is threatened or even “Endangered”, whereas actual factual evidence from where their strongholds are, and where they are adequately measured, confirm they are doing alright, even in cases with relatively high exploitation rates.

Of course the fundamental number one threat to salmon is clearly human development in their catchment, but since that’s a given, and none of these organisations wants us to go back to the Stone Age to restore salmon populations back to their historical abundance, it seems moot.

More on the rest, later.

So back to the big issue:



Like any other thread that is in danger of going off-topic I am just steering this one back in the direction we (as the OP's in this instance) wish it to take - this thread is not about salmon farming, it is about the different salmon charities and conservation organisations out there. If you wish to discuss this further you are free to PM me.

The main question we were seeking to answer in commissioning this piece was "But who is doing what and which ones are going to give any deeply worried salmon angler who wants to contribute, the most ‘bang for his or her buck’?"




IMHO doubtless some concerned, educated and open minded salmon anglers will be reticent to support any of these.

This may be because none of them appears to have been open and realistic and lobbied hard enough against something that can be shown to have a huge deleterious impact on salmon stocks (aquaculture: mainly through impacts on smolts, the fundamental which drives salmon stock performance ), or other factors.

As I understand it (please feel free to correct me if you can prove otherwise) none of the SCS is able to claim they support and act on behalf of anglers, because as charities, they cannot take money from a blood sport?

Instead they each appear to have focussed efforts on getting rid of the easy targets: netting (which aquaculture, through economic out-competition mainly did anyway); and stopping anglers harvesting organic, sustainable tasty treats of a line caught salmon. There appears to be a lot of overlap in their mission statements, and of course there's the potential for squabbling over common ground or "Empire building" - a subject peripheral and linked to that goosander correctly raises.


Someone wise once said on SFF “there’s money in Endangered species”.

So ultimately given the SCS all appear to be much of a muchness in that regard (anti-netting, anti-anglers), what is really needed to change the level playing field is simple economics, IMHO.


If I were forced to pick from one of these, the fundamental question I want answering would be: “How much bang will my buck have once the swish office overheads and executive pay are taken out of it? Oh, and are they funded by Marine Harvest?”

So therefore what will really help in this debate Editor, is for each of the organisations listed in the OP the answer to the following:

1. Head Office Location?

2. Main source of funding? Have they ever received funding from Aquaculture interests?

3. Amount and proportion of annual budget spent on overheads?

4. Ditto for campaigning?

5. Salary of CEO or similar?

5. Average executive pay?

6. Staff salaries as amount and proportion of annual budget?


Many are charities and therefore transparency is expected. Data from last available accounts will be fine. That will help everyone evaluate the matter much better. Then you should have a decent debate on your hands.

Look forward to you answering those. Till then, not much worth chatting about IMHO.

Regards:)



PS - mows - have a look at the last convo had with runningsilver on here - as I recall that was about the red herring mackerel point and was rebuffed.
 
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goosander

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Have been looking at various charity's income and expenditure. It is amazing just how much goes on overheads and in some cases exceeds 80 %.
A local charity which I help has three full time fundraisers which cost approx. £i30.000 per annum. How much money do they raise? no one will tell.
If you want a strong registered charity for salmon purpose then it should have a clear stated purpose and agenda.. All who benefit form the salmon fishers should contribute wither it is hotels/casting instructors/beat owners [I know there is a levy they pay]/magazines/fishing forums etc. and not just fishermen/fisherwomen. No need for a swanky head office either.
Bob.
 

Wee-Eck

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I did a random survey a few months ago and approached around a dozen charity collectors actively collecting donations in Dundee for various charities. I put my hand in my pocket but before producing any money I asked them if they were volunteers or being paid for their services. I got 11 oo, errr, um and blank stares and one old dear collecting for the Red Cross who stated quite proudly that she was a volunteer. My hand produced the appropriate change I had which went into her collection tin.
 

Roag Fisher

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Personally, I think its quite a disappointing article.
As usual, cherry picking examples and cases to prove points rather than using facts.

"While up to 35% of smolts entering the sea used to return to our rivers to breed, now that figure could be under 5% on most rivers. "

So was it 35% smolts across a river, or most rivers as the 5% relates to.

Have overall smolt figures officially dropped from 35% returning to 5%?

Ive still to see the science behind the 35% figure.

Is it not just as important on quality and number of smolts leaving the river than just% returning.

I have a feeling that if 35% of smolts returned to the Fyne, it would still be dead!!

Doesn't mean that everything is right wrt smolts, but why not use facts.

This doesn't take away the fact that the current smolt tracking in the rivers is a good thing, just a shame that the sample numbers are so small, which could lead to big variances in the results.

"The only reason that rod catches have not collapsed completely is that 250,000 salmon used to be netted around our coastline"

This sounds good, but im not sure it stands up to scrutiny.
The nets were off at Usan last year, with no positive effect on the Northie counter.

Now it could be that the Northie would have been even worse if the nets had still been there, but in reality, there seems to have been little if no collaboration between removing nets and in river salmon increases over the years.


"It should be said however that this adversarial approach is well-trodden ground and one that others who have been involved in the aquaculture debate are gradually moving away from towards a more collaborative-style approach, mindful of the political reality that fish farming in Scotland is a massive £2 billion industry employing 8000 people in remote rural communities."


In principle, collaboration would be the way forward, but that implies both parties willing to work together.

How is that collaboration working for the Lochy just now? In what seems to be a good year in the East, the Lochy seems to be seriously struggling.

Its also a huge industry in Norway, yet they seem to have less issues than our west coast, simply because we let the Norwegian owned companies, behave different to how they would in their own country.
In what way is that correct?



"Take for example the emerging data about the impact of pelagic fish stocks. World renowned Norwegian marine biologist Jens Christian Holst has amassed some very compelling data to suggest that it is in fact the unprecedented explosion of pelagic fish stocks such as mackerel all over the NE Atlantic that is quite literally ‘eating foraging salmon out of house and home’ and resulting in historically low returns to natal rivers. The talk is available to view below and I would strongly advise anyone to watch and listen to it to understand that salmon survival needs to be understood in a holistic manner."

What emerging data?
I don't see any fact or figures there, only a hypothesis, that because there is more available food than ever in the sea. Somehow, salmon will starve, whilst Mackerel and Herring will increase, Even, though young ones are staple salmon food.

None of the points mentioned in the report seem to address the different numbers of returning fish to neighboring rivers. Ie North Esk - South Esk, or Dee - Don.

"The AST’s scientific director Professor Ken Whelan recently stated that the number of salmon that die in rivers and at sea could be halved if all the threats were identified and then managed or removed. “It’s like a relay race with hurdles“, he said recently, “And it just depends how many hurdles we can take down.”

The most sensible comment of all.
However, we still cant even be bothered to count how much salmon actually return, and instead rely on catch returns, often deliberately without correlation to effort, or quantifying what % is actually caught or how many are caught several times.

As per Goosanders post, you would think there could be better collaboration between the groups.

Its good that they are there, but for me it always feels like they are chasing someones personal opinions or theory, rather than looking at all the issues in a calm, orderly and controlled manner.

Even now that it seems, maybe its not " ALL AT SEA"
We still seem to be looking mainly at sea.

Cheers

Mows

Even if it is proven in the next 25 years that the problems "are all at sea", nothing meaningful could ever be done to change what happens at sea.
Yet, imagine what could be done right now if all the money directed towards studying the "what, if, maybe" problems was directed to solving the known problems. Aquaculture is only one of several problem areas.
eg....the level of smolt mortality in river is now very high and no study is required to solve the problem. But cash currently being lost at sea would go a long way to winning the battle for hearts and minds to have the problems addressed!
 

Loxie

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My understanding of why we have a large number of charities gobbling up a large proportion of the available donation income on replicated offices and staff is that if we had only one body there would be a number of redundancies.

The accounts are fairly easy to get hold of online through Compaies House BETA.
 

Roag Fisher

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Even if it is proven in the next 25 years that the problems "are all at sea", nothing meaningful could ever be done to change what happens at sea.
Yet, imagine what could be done right now if all the money directed towards studying the "what, if, maybe" problems was directed to solving the known problems. Aquaculture is only one of several problem areas.
eg....the level of smolt mortality in river is now very high and no study is required to solve the problem. But cash currently being lost at sea would go a long way to winning the battle for hearts and minds to have the problems addressed!

Now that a few of you have liked the above post, I should point out that S&TA are doing a fair bit of lobbying regarding aquaculture.
I suspect it is them that has been feeding the press info regarding the shambles that is aquaculture.
All that is required is someone to round up all the various organisations and point them in the same direction.
 

mows

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Now that a few of you have liked the above post, I should point out that S&TA are doing a fair bit of lobbying regarding aquaculture.
I suspect it is them that has been feeding the press info regarding the shambles that is aquaculture.
All that is required is someone to round up all the various organisations and point them in the same direction.

I agree. They seem to be doing a fair bit of work in the background.
I suspect the latest SEPA news items are due to their work.
Environmentally is where the farms are at their weakest, and this is where they should be held to account.
 

seeking

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Now that a few of you have liked the above post, I should point out that S&TA are doing a fair bit of lobbying regarding aquaculture.
I suspect it is them that has been feeding the press info regarding the shambles that is aquaculture.
All that is required is someone to round up all the various organisations and point them in the same direction.

To be fair, I liked the post because it was right, 100% IMHO.

As for the specific organisation you now mention, the comments in my post above were motivated by them because the Editor was talking "bang for buck". Since the head of that organisation is on over 100k per year, and is not apparently alone, I'll reserve my right to contribute.

Re aquaculture, I realise that they are now doing more, but the point is that the damage is done and the copy book blotted IMHO (and their ability to claim the high ground is damaged because of the old Triumverate, and the WFR and the "we're all killing too many fish" that did aquaculture's job for it, plus on a personal level Paul K's "enemy within" blog (or is it bog?) piece :rolleyes:)

Call me old fashioned, or unable to grasp realpolitik but my point remains. They would never unite and fight because there's too much of a potential pie to squabble over. A bit of painting over cracks doesn't cut it for me.

Perhaps I would be persuaded if they got their approach to the science right lobbied like fe ck for a ban on aquaculture, lobbied that angler harvest is sustainable, lobbied like fe ck that the rivers are being turned into sewers and did some proper science like the AST (before it was seduced by aquaculture) used to when it published the Blue Books...

Till then, in the words of the Pretenders, my brass stays in my pocket:
I had a substantial sum lined up for a donation a while ago and it was blown by the scientific officer of one organisation, and the regional head of another (from the crowd you name), merely being wazzocks and arguing against better monitoring and evaluation of our rivers... True story (as ever):)
 

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I agree there is a big problem with the "I am right, you are all wrong" approach taken by some. Including monumental huffs taken by more than one ;);););) (easier than trying to defend the indefensible).
But I take the view that salmon would be in a much worse place if these organisations were not in place. This makes them worthy of (possibly targeted) support from those able to do so.
 

castor

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Even if it is proven in the next 25 years that the problems "are all at sea", nothing meaningful could ever be done to change what happens at sea.
Yet, imagine what could be done right now if all the money directed towards studying the "what, if, maybe" problems was directed to solving the known problems. Aquaculture is only one of several problem areas.
eg....the level of smolt mortality in river is now very high and no study is required to solve the problem. But cash currently being lost at sea would go a long way to winning the battle for hearts and minds to have the problems addressed!



Although I agree with the broad intention of the above, especially so the statement regarding smolt mortality. (in over 50 years I have caught far too many parr each season...for the past two years I have caught very few! Ditto smolts...caught none).

The reason aquaculture receives most of the blame is that in rivers which have high density farms in their estuaries/sea lochs it is quite clear that lice infestation - especially of migrating smolts - is to blame for the sharp fall off in salmon runs. As for the damage to smolts caused by the chemicals used in the industry, I have no idea many years ago a river I fished was part-netted by scientists and the haul of some 40 salmon and grilse had severe cataracts in both eyes!!! I know that the chemicals used have changed however I am quite confident that smolts will be far more sensitive to chemicals than will be returning salmon.

They (the commercial fatteners of Norwegian salmon stock) are adding to the problem as the vast number of escapee fish which are running the systems are perfectly capable of cross breeding with the (now small) native stock, thereby producing offspring which have dual genes. Do these hybrids have the genetic makeup to establish themselves as a species in themselves - or are they going to die out over a few generations? (I was appalled to read elsewhere that some anglers are returning obvious escapees!! It should be a system by-law on all rivers subject to escapee runs that such fish are killed)

But back to your main point.

I know two systems, both in single ownership from source to sea. Both of these in former times when labour was cheap and plentiful were so well kept that the owners' staff had to rake the spawning beds, ensure that access was as free as possible and kept a full 24/7 watch on their waters. This amount of input is very unlikely to be possible in the 21st Century. However, the spawning burns do need to be watched and at times repaired - along with the access to them.

The other main problem for both migrating smolts and returning salmon is that of coastal and river predation; seals and dolphins on the salt side have and continue to increase in population. On the freshwater side again predators are also on the increase despite what the Tweedbeats Blog may say on the matter. BUT the problem is that the TV and general media has used the lets cuddle these birds/animals (along with foxes etc) to such an extent that any attempt to exercise realistic controls of their populations is bound for failure; to succeed a whole re-education programme taking many years would be necessary!
 
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Roag Fisher

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Blind salmon = the early days experimenting with Ivermectin. The fish also turned grey. ;)
It is worth mentioning that the Stornoway Angling Association recently did the whole management bit on the Local River Creed. Redds up 500%, catches up 300%, great juvenile count, etc.
Local salmon politics (leaving that vague) killed the project, sadly.
The point being it was easy to improve this river DESPITE the dire situation with aquaculture.........given that some people active in the restoration are now quite senior in the aquaculture industry, I expect them to mention that when they feel it appropriate to do so!
 

Dryfly

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Blind salmon = the early days experimenting with Ivermectin. The fish also turned grey. ;)
It is worth mentioning that the Stornoway Angling Association recently did the whole management bit on the Local River Creed. Redds up 500%, catches up 300%, great juvenile count, etc.
Local salmon politics (leaving that vague) killed the project, sadly.
The point being it was easy to improve this river DESPITE the dire situation with aquaculture.........given that some people active in the restoration are now quite senior in the aquaculture industry, I expect them to mention that when they feel it appropriate to do so!

Roag. I was wondering about the Creed situation. 500 and 300% improvements were outstanding and I know you personally made a big contribution to making the improvements happen. However, what more do you think could now be achieved using the same approaches that led to such success? I wonder if that was 'low hanging fruit', or whether the Creed is now at around its 'natural state' (despite the ScotGovs rating). If more could be done to improve it, what would that be (ie the river rather than sea/aquaculture). All hypothetical as Lewis is now turning into a great desert.
 

Roag Fisher

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Roag. I was wondering about the Creed situation. 500 and 300% improvements were outstanding and I know you personally made a big contribution to making the improvements happen. However, what more do you think could now be achieved using the same approaches that led to such success? I wonder if that was 'low hanging fruit', or whether the Creed is now at around its 'natural state' (despite the ScotGovs rating). If more could be done to improve it, what would that be (ie the river rather than sea/aquaculture). All hypothetical as Lewis is now turning into a great desert.

The work needed to be ongoing to keep the stock levels the way they were. But we found we were spending more time arguing to be left to do the required work than we did actually doing the work. That wore us down in the end. "You cannot carry on doing the work that improved the river in case you harm the river" sort of sh!t. We wanted to see just how good a fishery we could make the Creed, but the powers, rather than encouraging this, threw a bag of spanners in the works. And they used "science" to do this.

Terms like "natural state" should be avoided in most river management because there is precious little natural environment left in the UK. Salmon need all the help they can get.
 

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That is a total disgrace....but not, unfortunately, surprising.

[Can you say whether it was officialdom or other fishery owners :)rolleyes:) which proved to be the spanner in the woodpile?]


The Islanders I have met over the years are very hard working and to have to experience such a damper does make one wonder as to the sanity of some who make rules in such matters. What was the reason given for withdrawal of support? It seems to me from the way you have couched the facts that the scientific people may have an undisclosed scheme up their corporate sleeve. (Perhaps it is a unique scheme to see how re-introduced Beavers might survive in a treeless landscape!)
 
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The UK Atlantic Salmon Conservation Charities - Who is Doing What?

By way of clarification Fish and Fly and many of our Members have for many years supported numerous fishing related charities both with funds, auction lots and marketing.

NASF has been the most pro-active with us and as a result with Colin Bradshaw and Paul Sharman I have been fortunate to have worked with Orri Vigfusson for many years. I fished with Orri on his favourite Icelandic rivers, talked with him on a regular basis and last met him a few weeks ago in London when he confided in me about his illness. Apart from discussing a proposed fund raising dinner we talked at some length about succession. We both knew that despite the enthusiastic global army of volunteers and his personal assistant Orri and the NASF was effectively one ‘brand’. Without him there would be challenges in continuing with his effective strategies to bring salmon numbers back to their natural abundance and to continue with his tremendous ability to raise essential funds.

Following our meeting Fish and Fly decided to commission a thought provoking article by Jon Gibb a well-respected Scottish salmon fishery manager and angling writer about the various Salmon Conservation Charities. We hope this and the discussion that follows will help potential donors to better understand the issues and where funds are utilised.

Some good points have been raised in the posts above and to increase clarity and transparency further we are asking the main charities to respond to many of the points. Subject to the responses we can then produce a more definitive paper based on our findings. One certain thing is the charities are all committed to improving salmon stocks.

I hope members of this forum appreciate us investing in ‘guest’ content on such important subjects as this.

Best regards

Richard Hewitt

P.S. Fortunately as you will see from the link below it does seem there is a good future for NASF and that an Orri fund will be set up shortly to fund its commitments especially with relation to the buy-out of nets.

Honouring the Legacy of Orri Vigfusson
 
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