Policy and external engagement
During October, 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).
Licensed killing of salmon - Scottish Government provided formal notice of revised proposals for salmon conservation. The consultation period closed on Thursday 29 October. A copy of the joint ASFB and RAFTS response to these proposals may be found HERE.
Joint Working Group – The group last met on 23 September and 30 October - the most recent approved minutes can be viewed HERE. Wider information on the JWG may be viewed HERE (ASFB) and HERE (RAFTS). The most recent ASFB & RAFTS WFR Bulletin, describing in more detail the current work streams being driven by the JWG, may be viewed HERE.
The ASFB and RAFTS Chairmen have continue to make time available to discuss the reform proposals and implications for Boards and Trusts. To date, discussions have taken place in the following areas:
Kyle of Sutherland DSFB / Trust
Deveron / Ythan /Ugie DSFBs and Trusts
Galloway Fisheries Trust
Cromarty DSFB and Trust
Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust
Northern DSFB and West Sutherland Fisheries Trust
Cree DSFB / Galloway Fisheries Trust
Cromarty DSFB/Trust and Wester Ross DSFB/Trust
This had been well received by a number of members and potential partnerships and rationalisation of areas are being discussed in a largely positive and helpful way. It is clearly desirable that the sector should come up with its own ideas on this matter rather than have solutions imposed on it.
ASFB and RAFTS will be convening a special WFR discussion session following the AGMs on Tuesday 3 November. This will allow in-depth discussion on key issues and provide an update on progress. Scottish Government will also be contributing to this session.
Bailiff training – the next examination will take place on Saturday 5 December (10.00 – 12.00). Further details will be posted on local venues in due course.
Development of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) - IFM, ASFB and SFCC met to discuss the further development of CPD for the fisheries management sector. It agreed to consult more widely on the matrix that had been produced which sets out the skills, experience and relevant training (where it exists) for the wider range of tasks and skill appropriate to fishery management. The matrix would be developed further in light of comments received. It is recognised that the skills and expertise identified in the matrix will not be definitive to particular job roles, and there would be much transferability between skill sets and jobs.
- 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 is currently taking place and it is hoped that tenders for design/design-build will be advertised in late October 2015.Design work is due for completion by March 2016, with physical work taking place on some structures in summer 2016 (although a phased approach is favoured).
- 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 was successful in its recent application to WEF for the design and works phases of this project, and it is hoped that the design phase tender will be advertised in late October 2015.
- 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. Agreement has been reached that the project should move forward to a design phase on the basis that the estimated costs need to be analysed and ‘ground-truthed’, partly through the use of early contractor involvement and partly as a result of more detailed design work. RAFTS has therefore applied to WEF for funds to enable a design phase to be undertaken. It expected that RAFTS will have the results of this application early in the New Year.
- 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 have now been received by RAFTS.It is anticipated that the project phase will complete in November 2015.At present, detailed discussion is ongoing regarding the best method for reprofiling the stretch, and some additional ground-penetrating analysis may be required to fine-tune this design process.
- 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, which is expected imminently.
- 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 number of bids were received. It is hoped that the contract will be awarded very shortly.
- 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.The project is progressing well, and the contracted consultant (Atkins) has already visited the site.
Pearls in Peril (PiP) LIFE Project
- October began with a visit from the LIFE Monitor and other EU representatives to assess progress and to review the mid-term report. There was a day-long tour of PiP sites to see bank and instream restoration, tree planting, water margin management followed by a day of presentations by Project Officers.LIFE were impressed by the scale of works achieved by PIP throughout the UK, and made suggestions regarding how to maximise output and effective use of remaining funds in the final year of the project.
- Works to remove cars and concrete from 100 m of riverbank on the Mar Lodge Estate, River Dee has been completed. 31 cars were removed. The bank has been re-profiled to blend into the landscape, and covered in geotextile to protect it from winter flows until vegetation can re-establish next spring.
- The tender process is underway to appoint a construction contractor to breach flood embankments and re-meander the Allt An Slugain burn, a tributary of the River Dee near Braemar.These works will take place in June 2016.
- Discussions are underway with the Spey Salmon Fisheries Board to include the re-opening of 500 m of historic channel at Aviemore in the PiP project.
- Discussions are underway with Fisheries Trusts/Boards (Dee, South Esk and AN other) and landowners about the siting and content of 3 interpretation boards that the project must produce.
- Additional funding for small tree enclosures has been secured. Contracts are in the process of being issued for further tree planting in small fenced enclosures along the Rivers Gairn, Gelder and Muick, all tributaries of the Upper Dee.
- Further site visits to investigate potential for SRDP Agri-Environment Climate scheme on farms have been conducted, some resulting from the workshop held in the Middle Dee area (Finzean) at the end of September.
Scottish Mink Initiative (SMI)
- Coordinator provided support by telephone, e-mail and face to face meetings with the fisheries trusts involved with SMI.
- Coordinator continued to distribute equipment amongst the fisheries trusts.
- Coordinator attended INNS Plants Stakeholder meeting in Aberdeen.
- Coordinator presented ‘Citizen Science and Engaging the Public’ at an SNH Sharing Good Practice event.In addition Coordinator ran 4 discussion groups at this event with Marie Pages.
- Coordinator presented ‘SMI Progress’ at the Highland Invasive Species Forum (HISF), Beauly and also at the Cairngorms Recorders Day, Boat of Garten.
- Mink sightings, signs and captures usually decrease during October as things begin to settle down after the autumn dispersal.This October 4 mink sightings (from Conon, Findhorn, Lunan Water and Garry), 1 raft recorded positive mink signs on the Conon (incidentally this mink has been photographed several times on or near the raft but as yet has not been caught) and 4 mink captures (2 on the Isla (Tay), 1 on the Ness & 1 on the Conon) 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.
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.
Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI)
- On the 6 October the PDO presented the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative at a stakeholder meeting at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. SISI will liaise with the consultants and stakeholders who have been engaged to develop an Aberdeenshire county-wide invasive non-native plant species project to ensure a joined up co-ordinated approach is taken to invasive plant control in Aberdeenshire.
- On the 8 October the PDO attended the SNH Sharing Good Practice event – Controlling Invasive Non-Native Species – Secrets of Success. Organisations across Scotland came together to share experiences on the control of various INNS and discussions arose on how groups and organisations can move forward, building on experiences gained across many years and different project scales.
- On the 9 October the PDO presented on the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative at the 7th Highland Invasive Species Forum in Beauly. The HISF is well attended by organisations and groups working on INNS across the Highlands.
- A progress meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund Officers was held on 15 October in Edinburgh. The progress of the development phase was presented to the HLF Officers and copies of draft documents discussed.
- The PDO commenced meetings with the various trusts across the Initiative area on 19 October. These meetings are identifying the priority project areas, key stakeholders and building up an activity plan for the SISI delivery phase.
RAFTS Project Development
Upcoming dates and events
- The RAFTS Director attended the 2nd Sea Trout Symposium in Dundalk, Ireland where collaborative working opportunities where discussed with the Institute of technology, Sligo, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Loughs Agency. These potential opportunities will be further investigated in the coming months.
- RAFTS expressed an interest on behalf of its members in participating in a joint project to investigate suppression of immune-competence in sea trout smolts with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the University of Stirling.
- RAFTS continues to work with the 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 continuing to work with the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust to explore synergies between the coastal water work of west coast Trusts and Boards and inshore fisheries monitoring.
- RAFTS is in discussion with SNH with regard to the undertaking of wprk investigating the Host salmonid specificity of selected pearl mussel populations. This would involve four member Trusts.
- ASFB and RAFTS AGM – 3 November 2015 (Dewar’s Centre, Perth)
- RAFTS and ASFB Members Meeting and Conference - 16th-17th March 2016 (Battleby, Perth)