Policy and external engagement
During September, ASFB and RAFTS were in regular contact with Marine Scotland and other agencies on a number of issues. These mainly focussed on meetings relating to the Wild Fisheries Reform (see more details below).
Wild Fisheries Reform (WFR) – ASFB and RAFTS are represented on a number of groups which are helping influence and shape the direction of the reform proposals. These include:
- The WFR Stakeholders Reference Group – the most recent meeting of this group was held on the 24th September.
- Strategy Development Group - A new group has also been formed to consider a National Wild Fish strategy for Scotland – this strategy will accompany the draft bill and it is expected that both the draft bill and strategy will be issued for public consultation early in 2016. This group has met twice so far and will continue to meet to develop the strategy until the end of the year.
- The Bailiff Development Group, set up by ASFB in 2012 has evolved into a group representing fishery enforcement interests across Scotland, including representatives of Scottish Government. It is providing specific expertise and advice in relation to enforcement and compliance matters in relation to the reform process. It last met on 10 September and covered a lot of useful ground about future enforcement. A copy of the latest minutes will be available HERE in due course.
- A detailed bulletin expanding on progress with the reform process will be available very soon and may be viewed on the ASFB and RAFTS websites HERE in due course. It will also be sent directly to all members.
Licensed killing of salmon - Scottish Government have now provided formal notice of revised proposals conservation of salmon. The original proposals for kill licensing and tagging of fish have now been dropped and alternative proposals have been advertised. In summary, these are:
•The killing of salmon will be managed on an annual basis by categorising fishery districts and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in relation to their conservation status;
•Fishing out-with estuary limits will be prohibited for a period of three years followed by a review;
•Steps to reduce killing of salmon will be required in areas where salmon are in moderate conservation status;
•The killing of salmon will be allowed in areas in good conservation status;
•Conservation plans will be required in areas where salmon fail to meet good conservation status;
•Fishing will be restricted to catch and release only, ending deliberate killing, in areas where salmon are in poor conservation status.
ASFB & RAFTS and members will be considering the new proposals. The formal notice may be viewed HERE. Representations or objections in respect of the proposed conservation regulations should be submitted by 29 October 2015 to:
Salmon and Recreational Fisheries Team
Area 1B North
Joint Working Group – The group last met on 23 September and the minutes from that meeting will be published shortly and can be viewed HERE. Further detail will be available in the WFR bulletin referred to above.
- Peter Series joined RAFTS in early September. One of Peter’s first tasks is to take ownership of a RAFTS/Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust project to remove an impassable structure on an important salmon spawning burn in the West of Lewis.
- RAFTS currently manages 7 ‘live’ projects concerning the easement or removal of in-river barriers to fish migration. These 7 projects encompass 14 currently impassable structures, and funding for scoping, design and physical works is provided through regular applications to the SEPA Water Environment Fund (‘WEF’).
- River Almond, West Lothian: 7 barriers – Phase 1 (initial surveys/sediment sampling) complete and formally reported by Mott MacDonald. Phase 2 (feasibility and optioneering) fieldwork is complete, and this phase has now also been completed and signed-off. Further discussion with structure owners and project partners will take place before progression towards the design phase can happen.
- River Avon, South Lanarkshire – 2 barriers: Phase 1 (feasibility and optioneering) is complete, and this phase of the project has now formally ended. Following stakeholder meetings in July strong support for the preferred options at both sites was expressed. RAFTS and SEPA have met with structure owners at both sites and these individuals have given their support for the project to move forward towards a design phase. RAFTS has made an application for funding to WEF, and we await the results of this application.
- River Don, Tullynessie Weir - 1 barrier: The River Dee Trust has agreed to fill the role of local implementer on behalf of the River Don Trust. The River Dee Trust has met with local landowners and will now move forward in partnership with RAFTS to deliver the design and build phases by summer 2016.
- Gottar Water Weir, Inverclyde - 1 barrier: Phase 1 (feasibility and optioneering) application was approved in late 2014, and the tender was awarded to Royal Haskoning DHV in spring 2015. Initial walkover surveys took place some weeks ago (including ecological survey and sediment sampling), and a successful public engagement meeting was held on-site. Since this time, further coring and geomorphological studies have been completed, and all on-site work is now at an end. A second public engagement meeting was held in mid-June, and the preferred option for easement was presented (and fully supported). However, the estimated costs associated with the preferred option are proving to be prohibitive. Additional costing for further feasible options have now been provided by the consultant, but costs remain prohibitive from a cost-benefit perspective. Further internal discussion is ongoing to determine a way forward for the project, and RAFTS awaits the results of these discussions.
- Creamery Weir, Dumfries & Galloway - 1 barrier: Phase 2 (design) application was approved in late 2014. The tender was awarded to JBA Consulting in mid-April, and 90% of deliverables has now been received by RAFTS. It is anticipated that the project phase will complete in October 2015, and a local stakeholder meeting will take place to present the design documents.
- Corrie Burn Weir, Spey – 1 barrier: RAFTS, SEPA and The Spey Foundation are meeting with Moray Council and Diageo in early September to discuss the project and, it is hoped, come to agreement on a way forward that meets project objectives whilst mitigating the concerns of all parties. RAFTS and the Spey Foundation await the result of the council’s internal discussions.
- Morsgail Barrier, Isle of Lewis – 1 barrier: Approval was received this month for an application made to the WEF in April. This concerns a structure on the Isle of Lewis, and the project is in collaboration with Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust. The tender for Phase 1 (feasibility & optioneering) and Phase 2 (design) was advertised in mid-September, and a tender workshop will be held at RAFTS offices on 30 September.
- RAFTS continues to provide technical support to Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust on their WEF-funded project to enable fish to migrate upstream of Diebidale Dam on the Carron system.
Pearls in Peril (PiP) LIFE Project
- Works to remove cars and concrete from 100 m of riverbank on the Mar Lodge Estate, River Dee have begun. 31 cars were removed. The story has had good media attention: it featured on BBC Reporting Scotland on 23 September, BBC Radio Scotland’s Newsdrive programme on 24 September and BBC Radio Scotland’s Out of Door programme on 26 September. It has also had good print coverage in local and national newspapers.
- Works to remove 9 croys at Sluie and Commonty, River Dee and 16 croys at Banchory are now complete.
- South Esk:
- Funding for riparian tree planting has been allocated and a contract issued for 3 sites at Rottal Lodge, Glen Clova. Planting will stabilise banks, mitigate sediment run off, create dappled shade and leaf litter input into the river to benefit aquatic biodiversity.
- PO attended a cross-catchment meeting held in the South Esk catchment.
- Several sites for non-SRDP funded works have been identified, mainly to create water margins/buffer strips to mitigate diffuse pollution.
- A workshop for farmers on SRDP and diffuse pollution will be held at Finzean Village hall on 30 September.
- An SRDP Forestry Grant Scheme proposal has been submitted for the Geldie and Upper Dee tributaries to create riparian woodland totalling ~30 ha.
- Additional small enclosure sites are currently under consideration.
- A site visit to several PiP planting locations with SNH Head of Policy & Advice was carried out to discuss SRDP funding.
Scottish Mink Initiative (SMI)
Many thanks to the fisheries trusts involved with the Scottish Mink Initiative: West Sutherland Fisheries Trust; Wester Ross Fisheries Trust; Cromarty Firth Fisheries Trust; Ness & Beauly Fisheries Trust; Findhorn, Nairn & Lossie Fisheries Trust; Spey Foundation; Deveron, Bogie & Isla Fisheries Trust; River Dee Trust; Esk Rivers & Fisheries Trust and Matt Oliver who covers the Ugie and Ythan catchments.
- Coordinator provided support by telephone, e-mail and face to face meetings with the trusts involved with SMI.
- Coordinator continued to distribute equipment amongst the fisheries trusts.
- Coordinator continued to work with University of Aberdeen re: re-building of the on-line database (Minkapp).
- Coordinator attended a River Festival on the River Findhorn organised by FNLFT to help promote SMI.
- Mink sightings, signs and captures are usually higher during September as the juveniles disperse to establish their own territories. This September 13 mink sightings (from Conon, Findhorn, Gruinard, Isla (Deveron), Lunan Water, Ness, North Esk, Oykle and Kyle of Sutherland, Spey and Ythan), 6 positive signs on rafts (on the Tay, Lossie, Don and Cromarty Firth) and 7 mink captures (2 on the Tay, 1 on the Deveron, 1 on the Lossie and 3 on the South Esk) have been recorded.
- Many fisheries trusts continue to promote and raise awareness of the SMI in a number of ways e.g. school visits, meetings, presentations, events, websites and social media.
Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI)
- Meryl Norris is now on board as the Project Development Officer for the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI). During this Heritage Lottery Fund development phase she will be working with a partnership of organisations across Northern Scotland to develop an evidence based and robust second round application to submit to HLF.
- SISI will address the key issue of cost effective long-term control of INNS to reduce the economic, social and environmental impacts of multiple INNS. SISI will build on good practice from previous landscape-scale single species and catchment-based multi-species projects. Evidence from these projects demonstrates that strategic approached over large geographic areas represent the most effective means of dealing with INNS.
- During this development phase we will be carrying out extensive stakeholder engagement to gather evidence of how SISI will meet the HLF outcomes for heritage, people and communities. The production of several plans and strategies will provide the evidence and support required for the round two application.
- Meryl has spent her first two weeks in post getting up to speed with work that is underway and developing a work plan to ensure smooth running and delivery of targets. Work has begun on developing a number of strategies and plans to support the bid and structure the delivery phase of the project. Meryl is working with partners to develop the content and will collate the final documents for submission in early 2016.
RAFTS Project Development
- RAFTS is working with west coast Trusts and Boards to develop a proposal for work on interactions between sea lice infections on wild and farmed salmonids starting in 2016.
- RAFTS is also working with the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust to explore synergies between the coastal water work of west coast Trusts and Boards and inshore fisheries monitoring.
Upcoming dates and events
- 2nd International Sea Trout Symposium, Crown Plaza Hotel, Dundalk - 20-22 October 2015
- ASFB and RAFTS AGMs – 3 November 2015 – Dewar’s Centre, Perth