— Mark Bilsby joins after 13 years with the River Dee —
Mark Bilsby has been named as the new chief executive officer (CEO) of the Atlantic Salmon Trust, replacing Sarah Bayley Slater who leaves the post after two and a half years.
With more than 20 years’ experience as a fisheries manager, Mark leaves his posts as Director for the River Dee Trust and Dee District Salmon Fisheries Board, where he has been since 2005. He also spent a decade as a senior fisheries biologist for the Western Isles Fisheries Trust and, prior to that, working with the National Rivers Authority and a private environmental consultancy.
One of Mark’s first responsibilities in his new role will be to oversee The Missing Salmon Project, Europe’s most ambitious salmon tagging project which will see the installation of a 65-mile wide ‘acoustic array’ across the Moray Firth in a bid to determine why Atlantic salmon numbers are dropping so rapidly.
Mark said: “There has never been a more exciting time to join this organisation – or a more important time. The wild Atlantic salmon is in serious danger and we have a crucial role to play in safeguarding its future.
“The Missing Salmon Project is the key to protecting the species’ future. It will give us hard information on how seriously the threats identified in our Likely Suspects Framework impact on the salmon’s survival and at which life stage. We now face a race against time to raise the £1million we need to make the project work – and I look forward to meeting this challenge head on.”
Sarah Bayley Slater, who is stepping away from the role but remaining involved with the Trust, said: “It is an honour and a privilege to work with the Atlantic Salmon Trust and I’m delighted to hand the baton over to Mark, whose skill and experience makes him an invaluable addition to the team.
“I wish him all the best in his new role and look forward to following the success of the Trust and the Missing Salmon Project in the future.”
Mark added: “I’d like to thank Sarah for all her hard work with the Trust and for launching the Missing Salmon Project. She has brought energy and innovation to the Trust and has been an excellent advocate for wild salmon.”
The Missing Salmon Project launched on the River Garry in April, with the Atlantic Salmon Trust saying the study, which will launch in the Moray Firth river system, will provide much-needed data on what is preventing salmon smolts getting out into the sea.
Data to be gathered by The Missing Salmon Project will give fishery managers and NGOs the information they need to call for policies that will protect the iconic species, according to groups who have pledged support to the project.
To find out more about the Missing Salmon Project, and to donate to the cause, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/themissingsalmonproject.
To view the Missing Salmon Project Booklet, visit https://issuu.com/missingsalmonproject/docs/missing_salmon_sp_final.