River Tweed Commission Response to IUCN Classification of 'Endangered' for Wild Atlantic Salmon in most of Great Britain

The River Tweed Commission (RTC) acknowledges the recent reclassification of wild Atlantic salmon in Great Britain as 'Endangered' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Released on December 11, 2023, during COP28, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species revealed Atlantic salmon have been reclassified from ‘Least Concern’ to ‘Endangered’ in Great Britain (as a result of a 30-50% decline in British populations since 2006 and 50-80% projected between 2010-2025), and from ‘Least Concern’ to ‘Near Threatened’ in terms of global populations (as a result of global populations declines of 23% since 2006.

The assessment is the first update to the global Red List status of salmon since 1996 and the first time that sub-populations have been assessed (39 in total). It should come as no surprise to anyone working on the species over the last 30 years that the overall trend is downward, and accordingly, the status has moved from ‘Least Concern’ to ‘Near Threatened’ at the global level. The Red List process split the UK into four sub-populations – GB, Leven, Bann, and English Chalk. It's the largest of these ‘GB’ (covering Scotland (minus the Leven), England and Wales) that has been assessed as endangered under the Red List categories.

The River Tweed Commission (RTC) resolved in March 2007 that the Tweed and its tributaries should be wild fish fisheries and that all Fisheries Management within the Tweed and Eye Fisheries District should aim to ensure robust, wild stocks of those species that could be commercially exploited so that they can sustain angling pressures in the long term. A commitment was made to base all management work on a thorough understanding of fish stocks; how they are produced, how they are affected by the local environment and by their fisheries, and how they might change naturally over time. The conservation of their genetic diversity shall be regarded as important an aim as the maintenance and increase of their numbers.

RTC’s Jamie Stewart said: "While the River Tweed salmon stocks retain a Grade 1 Conservation status, the RTC, Tweed Foundation and catchment stakeholders are working hard to respond to the crisis by identifying and, wherever possible, improving in-river, riparian, or wider catchment management issues relating to healthy fish stocks."

The new Tweed Initiative “The Sustainable Rivers Audit” scheduled to be launched on the 1st February 2024 aims to remove barriers, improve spawning and juvenile fish habitat, bolster river climate change resilience, and reduce water pollution to help support the restoration of wild Atlantic salmon in our catchment.

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