Salmon industry fund gives £70k to wild fish projects

The first beneficiaries of a Scottish salmon farming fund to help tackle the decline in wild salmon and sea trout within Scottish rivers have been named.

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Five projects will receive grants ranging from £9,025 to £19,600 from the Wild Salmonid Support Fund, which has been created by the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation and funded by salmon farmers. In total, more than £70,000 is being handed out by independent grant-making charity Foundation Scotland, which manages the fund.

The biggest award of £19,600 goes to the Lochaber Fisheries Trust to fund the implementation of juvenile surveys, which will assess fish densities and genetic diversity in eight rivers.

Habitat restoration

Argyll Fisheries Trust gets £18,600 to fund habitat restoration activities to improve stream habitats for fish and general biodiversity on the Dalvuie Burn, while Wester Ross Fisheries Trust is granted £14,574 to deliver a costed plan for actions at specific locations to reduce sediment inputs and stabilise the Rhidorroch River.

The Flow Countries Rivers Trust, which operates in the Wick and Caithness areas, gets £10,070 to extend survey work on macroinvertebrates to 10 disparate rivers. As indicator species, the analysis is part of a long-term initiative to measure stream health and habitat for wild salmonid populations.

On the Isle of Lewis, Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhaigh (Carloway Estate Trust) gets £9,251 to distribute gravel on a number of waterways to improve the salmon spawning reds on the Carloway river.

Shared concerns

The Wild Salmonid Support Fund was established by the SSPO in partnership with fisheries trusts organisation Fisheries Management Scotland to prioritise the investments of the salmon farming sector in saving wild salmon and sea trout.

It is part of a five-year programme that will see £1.5 million invested in supporting the status of wild salmon and sea trout stocks in Scottish rivers and enhance wild fisheries.

According to a Foundation Scotland press release, both Fisheries Management Scotland and the SSPO recognise and share the concerns over the overall declining status of wild salmonids in Scottish rivers, and the fund is committed to developing a productive working relationship between sectors.

Tavish Scott: "Our member companies are delighted to work with the wild salmon sector to make these awards."

‘Good science’

SSPO chief executive Tavish Scott said: “The SSPO and our member companies are delighted to work with the wild salmon sector to make these awards. Investing in good science and nature restoration projects on Scotland’s rivers is extremely important.

“We look forward to seeing the results of these excellent projects which are funded by the sector, and those that will be delivered in future under this fund, to benefit Scotland’s iconic wild salmon and sea trout.”

Fisheries Management Scotland chief executive Alan Wells said: “We welcome this investment in practical projects to benefit wild salmon and sea trout and the habitats on which they depend.

“Along with our call for robust regulation in Scotland to protect wild fish, projects of this nature are an important part of our overall strategy to protect and enhance Scotland’s wild salmon and sea trout.”

The Wild Salmonid Support Fund is scheduled to reopen to new applications in spring 2022. Further details on the fund can be found here.