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Who Values the Salmon & Why

Salmon fishermen:

Net & trap fisheries: In different countries across the North Atlantic, some 3,500 fishermen use nets or traps, often using traditional methods, to catch about 200,000 salmon. Some keep their catch to feed themselves but most are sold to fish dealers. The first sale value or gross value of the catch to the fishermen is about €7 million annually. Fishermen may also value the activity for itself, especially fisheries with cultural significance.

Rod fisheries: More than 300,000 anglers catch another 550,000 salmon, mainly for recreation. Some 122,000 are released. Anglers spend more than €500 million annually. But most value their fishing more highly than this and would be willing to pay more to maintain or improve the quality of their fishing. The difference between what anglers pay and what they would be willing to pay is known as their consumer surplus and can be large.

Fishery owners:

In countries where fishing rights are in private ownership, payments by fishermen for exclusive fishing can generate a substantial property value.

Salmon related businesses:

  • Money spent by fishermen provides jobs and income for owners of private fisheries, tackle dealers, guides, hotels, fishery managers, garages and other businesses providing services for salmon fishermen.
  • Fishmongers and smokeries generate extra income by processing and selling wild salmon.
  • Some businesses may benefit from eco-tourism involving salmon watching, at salmon leaps or even sub-aqua, rather than salmon catching.
  • Expenditure directly linked to salmon will ripple through an economy providing employment and incomes for other businesses not directly related to salmon or fishermen and so multiplying the economic impact.
  • There are possible benefits to the salmon farming industry of a wide genetic pool to draw on.

Local culture:

Salmon can have special significance and value to local culture. For example, natural resources have a very prominent place in indigenous cultures right across Canada. Aquatic resources, in particular, are important not only as a source of subsistence but also in the social fabric of many First Nations. For instance, fishing seasons provide opportunities for families to get together, for elders to teach young people their traditional ways. Salmon are an important component in many ceremonies, and are often mentioned in myths and stories that have been handed down through the generations.

The General public:

Whether or not people are fishermen or benefit directly from salmon, many are willing to pay to protect or improve salmon stocks, perhaps as part of the wider environment. This is the 'existence value'. The public may also value maintaining fisheries, especially traditional ones. This has been called 'heritage value'. These values may include a 'bequest value' for being able to pass on salmon and the fisheries to subsequent generations. The amounts most individuals are willing to pay are generally small. Indeed, many may not be willing to pay anything. But where a large number of people are willing to pay something, the total can be so large that it forms the main value of salmon to society. This isn’t surprising, given how much value we place on other wildlife, such as birds and whales.

In several countries, the salmon has been used as an educational tool to raise awareness and appreciation of the natural environment. Some examples of these education programmes are available on our 'Links' page. Read more....

NASCO has agreed goals and key issues in relation to social and economic aspects of the wild Atlantic salmon and has developed Guidelines for Incorporating Social and Economic Factors in Decisions under the Precautionary Approach. Read more...

Further information:

Agnarsson, S., Radford, A. and Riddington, G. (2008). Economic impact of angling in Scotland and Iceland. In Global Challenges in Recreational Fisheries. Edited by Oystein Aas. Blackwell Publishing. 364pp.

Anon (2003). An economic/socio-economic evaluation of wild salmon in Ireland.  Report prepared for the Central Fisheries Board, Dublin, Ireland, by Indecon International Economic Consultants. 132pp

Gardner Pinfold (2011). Economic Value of Wild Atlantic Salmon. Prepared for Atlantic Salmon Federation. Canada. September 2011. 70pp.

NASCO 2003 Technical Workshop Report on Social & Economic Values of Salmon

NASCO 2004 Technical Workshop Report on Social & Economic Values of Salmon

NASCO 2008 Working Group Report on Social & Economic Values of Salmon

Mawle, G.W. and Peirson, G. (2009). Economic evaluation of inland fisheries. Managers report from science project SC050026/SR2. Environment Agency, Bristol. 52pp.

Haaf netting in the Solway Firth
Salmon sculpture in Ross on Wye
.Courtesy of Guy Mawle
tana subsistence fishing
Courtesy of Børre K. Dervo
salmon ecotourism
.Courtesy of Bjorn Moe
river tweed hotel