Future Salmon Stock Positions
By Jock Monteith 15th November 2018
Imagine fast forwarding to the year 2028 and the headlines are reading 'Scotland has been officially declared the number one global salmon fishing destination' and the advice being given to the huge global salmon fishing market is to make sure you book your flights, fishing, guides & accommodation well in advance!
Mental Barriers In Salmon Management
The above scenario although it will sound impossible to many and especially those with current or prior involvement in the management of Scottish salmon fishing who still hide behind the convenient on-going excuse of 'ocean mortality' is only some 'already proven' large scale wild smolt ranching preparation and 'astute' redistribution of existing river revenue funds away from becoming a reality. I'm not saying for one moment that West Coast aquaculture has not played the major role in destroying West Coast wild salmon & sea trout runs and that the ecology of the West Coast sea lochs as I witnessed it all 'step by step' with my own eyes from the 70's but hopefully these issues will now 'finally' be properly addressed. The current and most recent stock decline is effecting the East coast rivers too which should mean this issue has little to do with West Coast aquaculture and highly likely much more to do with insufficient wild smolt outputs. They say the first step is the hardest and in this business that first step is simply as 'unified realisation' of the economy crippling low wild salmon stock position backed up by the additional realisation that 'effective action' is now the only viable option as we are very nearly out of time.
The Simplicity Of The Task In Hand
Thankfully rearing juvenile fish of any species is nothing more than child's play and you just look at how the commercial Scottish fish farms with their ability to smash output targets yet our wild Atlantic salmon stocks are still in the 'hands of the Gods' with negligible funding, vision or drive. Ranching wild stock salmon smolts where a 60% egg to 'sea ready' smolt survival rate can be achieved (instead of a wild 5% equivalent) in 'slow flow' designed outdoor ponds to keep their environment 'natural' prior to their carefully timed lower river catchment release (so as not to interfere with existing in-river wild stock) is nothing more than a basic IQ test which even the most stubborn closed minded salmon fishery board scientist or completely 'detached' politician should pass! This method negates the over predation perils of what these fish would be subjected to and subsequently 'annihilated' by in the river as 'in-river' predation is at an all time high and has been completely un-checked over the last decade which perfectly matches our consistently decreasing salmon runs! Any one who has studied the duplicating abilities and parenting protection skills of a merganser (as one example) will fully understand what I mean here before geometric progression even comes into play! 1 pair of these 'non native' & gregarious fish eating saw billed ducks will become 150 within 4 or 5 years even on the most pessimistic projection and we wonder why our salmon stocks are dwindling!
Even Eagles Need Pushed Out Of The Nest
There's a great saying which states 'there's no time like the present' and as far as the future 'commercial viability' of Scottish salmon angling goes this is indeed the time the eagle is ready to leave its nest! If preserving and developing the already dwindling economic benefits from visiting Scottish salmon anglers who have 'stuck it out' is deemed important then immediate action is the only option on the table. Imagine trying to quantify the overseas spend Scotland's salmon fishing asset has lost over the last 2 decades to foreign Atlantic salmon fishing destinations and it wouldn't surprise me one little bit if that loss was already over £1 billion! We are fortunate to have some seriously beautiful salmon rivers to 'naturally' enhance and each individual river will have it's own wild smolt 'output' number requirement for their immediate & 'significant' re-population of returning adult salmon.
Natural Genetically Intact Salmon Stocks
Drop the ego management guys and stop trying to convince yourselves that this cannot (or should not) be done just because you haven't to date acted upon it. Wild smolt ranching has been proven to work over centuries and not interfere with but only bolster 'individual breeding populations' of salmon in any one river. Use existing stock only from the river or tributary of the river concerned as I'm not saying that we should be mixing genetic stocks here at all as there's zero need for that. It does make me wonder though how a human being survives when he or she goes abroad or why on earth are the Eurasian beavers doing so well on the Tay when their genetic strain is completely non native! Don't use the ridiculous excuse that there's not enough wild salmon stock to take what is necessary to kick start this concept as we are not talking about significantly large numbers of brood stock and nothing more than what's already been historically taken by river management for meaningless fry rearing initiatives.
Professional Ghillie Client Facing Assessment
What matters to the economy of Scotland and the historic wild Atlantic salmon populations of our fine river assets is there being enough salmon about for an angler not to get 'bored to death' after on too many occasions seeing or touching nothing for days on end and giving it in the neck to the ghillie before deciding not to return. All the ghillie ever did wrong was trusting the management of his river to be taking enough 'effective' action to combat all of the other issues salmon are faced with as mentioned above. The reality is that most ghillies get shot down or hood winked with unsubstantiated scientific 'guesswork' when they dare to suggest 'common sense' initiatives at their 'annual' fishery board meetings but I truly think now is the time for river management to listen and let the 'customer facing' ambassadors of Scottish salmon fishing decide the best way forward as they have far more 'skin in the game'!
A Time To Celebrate Our Salmon Rivers
Personally I'm celebrating as we're at a stage now where no one can remain in denial and that 'effective' action is now 100% required. Thank goodness a wild Atlantic salmon is such a resilient God given creature and even though it's hunted everyday of life that its eggs to body weight pound ratio and following 'geometric progression' are seriously tipped in its favour. Imagine if Scotland was announcing to the salmon fishing world that 100,000,000 perfect 'genetically intact' and outdoor 'wild ranched' smolts were in the pipeline to be released in the Spring of 2020 spread as required across it's 400 plus glorious salmon rivers with satellite 'overwatch' against commercial exploitation through their oceanic feeding migration routes just how massive that PR would be for our nation. That fantastic wild smolt output scenario should be so close to becoming a reality at this time you should almost be able to touch it!
Give This A 'Like & Share' If You Agree Cheers Jock