The number of wild adult Atlantic salmon returning to the River Frome in southern England in 2021 was down almost 20 per cent on its 10-year average.
This drop echoes reports from Scotland and Norway where the 2021 annual salmon catches were the lowest on record – a clear message that 2021 was a very poor year for returning fish.
The news, from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)’s 2021 Fisheries Research Review, further highlights the growing need for targeted action to protect this iconic species.
The report also reveals that juvenile Atlantic salmon smolts migrating to sea from the River Frome in 2021 were 30 per cent below the 10-average, so expectations for adult returns from this smolt cohort, as grilse in 2022 and multi-sea-winter salmon in 2023, are low.
Based at the Salmon & Trout Research Centre at East Stoke on the River Frome in Dorset, the GWCT Fisheries Team is responsible for one of the longest running salmon monitoring projects in the UK.
The Frome is a salmon index river and provides data on marine survival rates for Atlantic salmon to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).
There are, however, some more positive signs from recent monitoring, as Rasmus Lauridsen, head of GWCT Fisheries Research, explains:
“Although we had a disappointing adult salmon run in 2021, we encountered good numbers of salmon parr in our annual parr tagging campaign in September, indicating excellent recruitment from the salmon which reproduced in 2020. So we are expecting a strong run of out-migrating salmon smolts in 2022.”
As a founding member of the Missing Salmon Alliance (MSA) the GWCT Fisheries Research Review also reports on the evolution of the MSA’s Likely Suspects Framework to novel ways to predict future salmon marine survival using indicators of ecosystem health and life cycle knowledge to improve decision making tools for salmon management.
The review can be downloaded at: