Cornish Biodiversity Network  -  Supporting Wildlife Recording

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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Salmo salar - Atlantic Salmon

Habitat & Distribution

The only native salmon species in Britain, this anadromous species is widely distributed in northern and south-western England, Wales and Scotland. They are also present in the rivers and chalk streams of the south coast of England. Spawning takes place, usually in November and December far upstream in clean, flowing water with a gravel or cobble substrate. Habitats with abundant cover, provided by the substrate and to a lesser extent by undercut banks and aquatic vegetation, are favoured. The major salmon rivers in Cornwall are mostly in the east of the county, Tamar, Lynher, Fowey and Camel. Salmon have also been recorded in low densities during Environment Agency surveys of the Porth, Fal and Looe rivers.


The offshore fishery off Greenland which has caught large quantities of Atlantic Salmon is widely seen as a major threat to the survival of this species. It is also threatened throughout its range by pollution, both agricultural and industrial, habitat degradation, reduced access to spawning grounds and reduced survival rates when at sea. Specimens are also accidentally caught in the open sea in nets set for other fish species.


The salmon is protected under Annexes IIa and Va of the EC Habitats Directive (in fresh water only), Appendix III of the Bern Convention, the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act (1974) and is on the UK and OSPAR Lists of Priority Species.


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.