Wild and Farmed
Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is an iconic fish. Salmon farming has made it available as a healthy food for all.
Wild salmon catches in Scotland, by commercial netting plus angling, increased from the 1950s to reach a peak around 1970. They have since shown a protracted decline, to a present-day plateau level.
There are occasional local tensions, which may become evident during planning development for new farms or modifications to existing farms. Notably, these may arise from large estate owners and proprietors of salmon fisheries who believe their personal or commercial interests in game fishing could be at risk from a fish farm development. However, the evidence from Scottish fisheries statistics show that these concerns are unfounded and that game angling for salmon and salmon farming can exist fully compatibly, side by side.
Against this background, there is suspicion amongst fisheries proprietors and anglers that the decline in catches on the west coast of Scotland is in part related to the development of marine aquaculture in the region. However, this is not consistent with the facts. Wild salmon numbers began to fall well before salmon aquaculture became established, and a similar decline has taken place on the east coast of Scotland, where there is no marine aquaculture. In fact over a period of sixty years the west coast to east coast catch ratio has varied very little.
In some parts of Scotland Area Management Groups have been established in accordance with the principles established under a Tripartite Working Group (TWG) initiative. These have been designed to bring together farmed and wild salmonid interests to further promote common interests in the health of the species to the benefit of both.