Stocking salmon from hatcheries is an old and sometimes controversial management option

The conservation of Atlantic salmon is crucial to the River Dee fishery and wider Deeside economy. This requires that the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board and River Dee Trust must do everything in their power to increase the number of returning adult fish and to maximise the production and fitness of smolts going out to sea. A hatchery is viewed by some as a solution to the declining rod catch.

The decline in returning adult salmon has clear implications for the economics of the fishery. Should anglers decide against fishing the Dee, this would be a financial concern for everyone who has a stake in the fishery. While there are lots of strong opinions about enhancement hatcheries, the Board and Trust must rely on hard evidence in decision making. Based on what we know, we don’t believe that a hatchery is the right tool for boosting the rod catch. The evidence indicates that over time, rather than boosting the rod fishery, an enhancement hatchery would have an adverse effect on wild fish populations.

There is no hard evidence which points to a successful enhancement hatchery operation in the UK, indeed, the body of evidence today means stocking practices are increasingly and widely challenged.

Marine Scotland Wild Atlantic Salmon Stocking Policy was published in May 2019. It states that any proposed stocking exercise will be assessed on its individual merits. There will be a presumption against enhancement stocking.

Dee Dsfb Hatchery Factsheet

Further Information

River Dee Hatchery Appraisal (2016)

The Dee Board commissioned a report to assess whether a hatchery was a suitable tool to enhance the rod catch on the River.


Artifishal is a film about people, rivers, and the fight for the future of wild fish and the environment that supports them. It explores wild salmon’s slide toward extinction, threats posed by fish hatcheries and fish farms, and our continued loss of faith in nature.

Salmon hatcheries blog by Professor Andy Ferguson (Queen's University Belfast) on the Wild Trout Trust website

With declining populations of salmon (and sea trout), it is understandable that many anglers and fishery owners see hatcheries as something tangible and practical that they can do to boost populations... Read on.

A Million Trees to Save Our Salmon

January 30, 2020

The River Dee Trust has announced plans to plant a million native trees in one of the biggest nature restoration projects in the Cairngorms. The project will recreate areas of landscape that have been lost for 2000 years.

Continue reading

Read More News