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‘There may be no wild salmon left to save’: MP raises concerns over the River Dee’s depleted salmon stocks

River Dee
Naomi Bell casts on the River Dee on the opening day of the salmon season at Banchory Lodge. Picture by Wullie Marr/ DC Thomson.

Calls have been made for “urgent action” to protect the River Dee from a further decline in salmon numbers.

The Dee is regarded as one of the best salmon rivers in the world, has had a fall in numbers means anglers who hold the river in high regard could choose to fish elsewhere.

The salmon fishery at the River Dee supports 500 full-time jobs and contributes £15 million per year to the local economy.

In January 2022, the Scottish Government published its Wild Salmon Strategy, following “unequivocal evidence” that populations of Atlantic Salmon are at a crisis point.

However, the report did not include guidance for rivers, which may come later in the year.

‘If we do not act now, there may be no wild salmon left to save’

Local MP Andrew Bowie has joined estate owners in calling for an urgent solution to the problem.

He wrote to Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon about concerns for the River Dee.

He said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that without Scottish Government intervention, the Dee will not continue as the popular attraction that it is known as today.

“Issues with predators, both birds and seals, continue to play a role in driving down stocks and depriving salmon of the opportunity to reproduce.

River Dee
Andrew Bowie MP on the banks of the River Dee. Picture via submission.

“Habitat improvement and biodiversity projects also need to be undertaken but will need government assistance to realise these objectives.

“Dee proprietors that I met with recently spoke highly of the Wild Salmon Strategy but noted its delayed implementation as reason for concern.

“The message was very clear: if we do not act now, there may be no wild salmon left to save.

“In that vein, I would encourage you to bring forward plans to protect salmon on the Dee rapidly.”

Responding to Mr Bowie, Ms Gougeon – who is MSP for Angus North and Mearns – writes: “I can assure you that our actions to deliver the objectives of this strategy are both immediate and ongoing, and a range of initiatives will proceed in parallel to the development of an overarching implementation plan.

“This plan will set out a comprehensive list of measures to be taken and will guide collective action, which is required across government, business and charitable sectors.

“I will continue to work with local stakeholders to ensure that the Wild Salmon Strategy is effectively implemented on the River Dee and Scotland more widely.”

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