Salmon Scotland has reminded organisations and projects they have until 31 March to apply to its “wild fisheries fund.”
The fund is part of a £1.5 million commitment from Scotland's salmon farmers to support the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of wild salmon populations.
Projects that receive grants will aim to stem the decades-long decline in wild fish numbers through habitat protection, protection from predators and restocking programmes. Habitat loss and rising river temperatures primarily due to climate change have impacted on wild salmon and sea trout populations throughout the UK and all over the Scottish coastline.
Salmon farming companies, which only operate on the west coast, launched the fund to play their part finding solutions, engaging constructively with the wild fish sector and taking meaningful action to save wild salmon.
Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “As one of Scotland's most iconic species, the king of fish has earned its place alongside the red deer, the golden eagle and the Scottish wildcat. But like so many other animals, numbers have been in decline for decades due to habitat loss and rising river temperatures caused by climate change.
“We encourage organisations and projects to apply for funding before the deadline to help address these issues and ensure the long-term survival of this beloved species. Our goal is to work with successful applicants towards achieving our shared objectives.
“Scotland’s salmon farmers want to play their part in finding solutions, engaging constructively with the wild fish sector and taking meaningful action to save wild salmon.”
Previously called the “wild salmonid fund”, more than £190,000 has been invested since 2021 in restoration projects to reduce riverbank erosion and measures to provide tree canopy and in-stream cover for young salmon.
Jon Gibb, co-ordinator of the Salmon Scotland wild fisheries fund, said: “The wild fisheries fund represents a rare and exceptional opportunity to access vital funds to improve their local rivers and lochs. I am looking forward to receiving strong applications from a diverse range of bodies in the wild sector.
“The fund aims to support projects of all sizes that aim to improve conservation and biodiversity. As someone who has worked on Scotland's salmon rivers for many years, I know we are facing a species on the brink of extinction in some places.
“Wild salmon are in a deep and dire crisis, and the aquaculture sector can play a vital role in mitigating their decline.”
Decisions on grants will be taken by Salmon Scotland in April, and the fund is being co-ordinated by fishery manager Jon Gibb.