A £145,000 fund has been launched to help save Scotland’s iconic wild salmon through habitat protection, protection from predators, and restocking programmes.

The Salmon Scotland “wild fisheries fund” will see the money invested by Scotland’s salmon farmers used to stem the decline in fish numbers, starting next year.

The fund will be co-ordinated by Jon Gibb, a fisheries trust manager based in Fort William, who has championed a constructive relationship between the farm-raised salmon sector and fisheries and angling groups.

He said: “As a salmon fishery manager with over 25 years of experience on the west coast of Scotland, I am delighted to co-ordinate this fund on behalf of Salmon Scotland.

“Wild salmon are under very serious threat from a wide range of impacts both in the river and at sea, and any projects to further understand those impacts and mitigate against them are urgently required.

“I am also delighted that the fund now covers applications from local angling clubs and other community bodies in the shared space to improve their angling and outreach opportunities.”

He went on: “These organisations have often been unable to access significant funding in the past, and yet salmon and trout fishing is at the very cultural heart of many Highland communities.

“Both the farmed and wild salmon sectors have a common interest to thrive in our shared space and both rely on the rich heritage of the wild salmon and the angling that depends upon them.”

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Wild salmon and sea trout populations throughout the UK have been in decline for decades – particularly because of habitat loss and rising river temperatures due to climate change and historic deforestation. Grants of this nature have previously been used to restore dams to help wild salmon progress to their spawning grounds.

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said salmon farmers have a desire to save “one of Scotland’s most iconic species”.

He added: “Wild salmon is one of Scotland’s most iconic species, but there has been a decades-long decline on the east and west coasts of Scotland as a result of climate change and habitat destruction.

“Scotland’s salmon farmers want to play their part finding solutions, engaging constructively with the wild fish sector and taking meaningful action to save wild salmon.

“Many salmon farmers are anglers themselves, and most people in the fisheries and angling sectors recognise the importance of a healthy shared environment, ensuring fish can thrive in our waters.

“Through the extraordinary success story of farm-raised salmon, we have developed world-leading expertise in hatching and rearing salmon that can thrive at sea.

“As well as financial support to projects, our members are sharing their knowledge and experience to support wild fisheries with re-stocking, again showing how collaboration is key to reversing the worrying decline in wild salmon numbers.”

The new fund replaces and builds on the work of the wild salmonid fund, which has invested more than £190,000. It promises to prioritise practical applications which aim to protect wild salmon populations and local angling opportunities.

The fund will be open from February 1-March 31, inviting fisheries organisations, including local angling clubs, fishery boards and other community associations to apply for a grant. More details are available at www.salmonscotland.co.uk/wildfisheriesfund