Salmon catches in Scotland are estimated to be at their lowest level since records began, sparking calls for preservation of the species to become a national priority.

Fisheries Management Scotland claims figures to be released by the Scottish Government on Wednesday show the fish is at "crisis point" and more must be done to help them.

The body suggests catches are at their lowest levels since records began in 1952.

Alan Wells, chief executive of Fisheries Management Scotland, said: "Salmon catches in Scotland have reached the lowest levels ever recorded.

"Figures for 2018, taken together with those of recent years, confirm this iconic species is now approaching crisis point.

"Some of the factors impacting on wild salmon stocks may be beyond human control.

"But Scotland's Government and regulatory authorities now have a historic opportunity to do everything in their power to safeguard the species in those areas where they can make a difference."

He added: "Salmon conservation must become a national priority in what is the International Year of the Salmon.

"We are calling on all regulatory authorities urgently to place a renewed emphasis on the crucial importance of salmon conservation.

"There are many examples where positive interventions have already helped, but more must be done.

"This will require Scottish Government and agencies to coordinate their efforts to protect salmon in a way that really isn't happening currently."

The figures are expected to be released at around 9.30am on Wednesday.