Policy and external engagement
During November and December, ASFB and RAFTS were in regular contact with Marine Scotland and other agencies regarding a number of issues. These mainly focussed on meetings relating to the wild fisheries reform (WFR - see more details below).
Joint Working Group – The group continues to meet to distil some of the current thinking on aspects relating to fisheries reform. The key issues for the group are assessing current finances and where gaps might exist for a future fisheries management model, form and function of new organisations, representation on new organisations and discussion on the current proposals for conservation limits for salmon fishery management. The Group last met on 3 December and the most recent approved minutes can be viewed HERE. Wider information on the JWG may be viewed HERE (ASFB) and HERE (RAFTS).
ASFB and RAFTS are feeding directly into the WFR through a wide variety of groups and other means – a short paper has been produced to provide information on the various groups, their composition and remit. See a copy HERE.
ASFB and RAFTS AGMs – The AGMs for both organisations took place on 3 November and we took the opportunity to convene a member’s session on the latest developments on fisheries reform. Presentations were made by Scottish Government and ASFB & RAFTS followed by a discussion session. A summary of this session, including the presentations made, may be viewed HERE.
Fish and Fisheries Advisory Group - ASFB and RAFTS attended the most recent meeting of the Fish and Fisheries Advisory Group convened by SEPA. Topics under discussion were the 2nd phase of the River Basin Management Plan process, Wild Fisheries reform proposals, the IBIS project and work on fish barriers presented by RAFTS and SEPA.
Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) – ASFB has now been formally appointed as a member of PAW.
ASFB already contributes to, and is a member of the PAW Poaching Sub Group. Full membership will consolidate our position in terms of ensuring fish-related wildlife crime remains a priority for overall wildlife crime prevention, detection and general enforcement. Further updates will be provided.
- 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 three tenders for design/design-build phases were advertised in late October 2015. Submissions are due on 23 November. 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. The design phase tender was advertised in late October, and the submission deadline is 25 November. This design work is due for completion by March 2016, with physical works taking place in summer 2016.
- 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. A tender for the design phase will be advertised imminently, and the design work is due for completion by March 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 re-profiling the stretch, and some additional ground-penetrating analysis may be required to fine-tune this design process. Discussions are ongoing as to the best/most cost-effective way to mitigate hydromorphological risks.
- 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 the contract was awarded to Envirocentre. A site visit has taken place, and work is well underway to ensure delivery of the feasibility and optioneering study before the end of the calendar year, with design work being completed by March 2016.
- 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 feasibility and optioneering study is due for completion before the end of the calendar year. The design phase is due for completion by March 2016, and whilst it is hoped that works can take place in summer 2016 this will depend heavily on the preferred option that is agreed by all parties and the associated timelines.
- RAFTS has taken on a secondee from Royal Haskoning DHV to work in the RAFTS office initially until the end of March 2016. The secondee will work with RAFTS on a specific package of work to help develop the capacity of members to deliver river restoration projects. The areas of focus will include (amongst others) stakeholder engagement, project management, health and safety, insurance, financial management systems, legal/procedural issues, procurement and contract management.
Pearls in Peril (PiP) LIFE Project
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. PiP held an on-site meeting with potential construction contractors and tenders are due at the beginning of December. The works will take place in June 2016.
- PiP has agreed to work with the Spey Salmon Fisheries Board to re-open 500 m of historic channel at Aviemore, and a further 200 m at Delagyle near Aberlour. The tender process to appoint a consultant to carry out hydromorphological surveys and produce detailed designs is underway and tenders are due at the beginning of December. The works will take place in July 2016.
- The River Naver Fisheries proprietors have given the green-light for a fish pass to be installed on the B871 road bridge apron, on the Langdale Burn tributary of the Naver. PiP are now in discussions with the Fisheries Manager to get this project underway.
- PiP have agreed the sitings for the River Dee and South Esk interpretation boards with the Trusts/Fisheries Boards, and are now working with a designer to produce “mock-ups” in time for the next PiP Steering Group. Final locations of the interpretation boards will depend on permission from landowners, and planning permission.
- Reducing nutrient and sediment input from diffuse pollution in River Dee – site visits, draft proposals and liaison with land managers carried out in each of the 4 target tributaries (Dess, Dinnet, Tarland, Feugh) with a view to implementing works either through SRDP AECS 2016 or utilising PiP funds.
- Upper Dee main small tree enclosure contract - Site visits and contractor liaison carried out as works progress along Baddoch Glen.
- 2 new contracts awarded for additional 315 small tree enclosures along the rivers Gairn, Muick and Gelder. Commencement of fencing works on Muick/Gelder 16/11/2015.
- Improving riparian habitat in Spey – site visit, farmer and agent liaison to progress water margin fencing along Allt Choire Odhair tributary and mainstem Spey.
- South Esk – main estates invited to come forward for advice on tree planting and buffer strip grants.
- Attendance at Scottish Local Operations Group meeting & contributions to project publicity, leaflets, ministerial presentation.
- Amendments to NTS Mar Lodge Woodland Creation SRDP Forestry Grant scheme and submission to FCS.
- 180 trees (donated by Woodland Trust) planted by volunteers in Upper Dee.
Scottish Mink Initiative (SMI)
- On the 30 November 2015 RAFTS were informed that the Scottish Government did not intend to relax funding restrictions to allow funds for SMI to continue until the inception of SISI in June/July 2016.As a consequence we regret that we are unable to continue to support SMI activities by member Trusts and the SMI Coordinator post.
- RAFTS would like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing SMI Coordinator and 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.
- During November the SMI Coordinator:
- Provided support by telephone, e-mail and face to face meetings with the fisheries trusts involved with SMI.
- Continued to distribute equipment amongst the fisheries trusts.
- Attended SGP Non Native and Emergent Diseases of Wild Plants and Animals.
- Sent all fisheries trusts a data download from the Minkapp.
- Mink sightings, signs and captures are usually low in November.This November the following was recorded: 1 mink sighting (Tummel catchment), 2 rafts with positive mink signs (Conon and Isla (Tay) catchments) and 2 mink captures (Conon and Water of Philorth).
- 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)
- The SISI development phase steering group meetings continue on a two-three weekly basis to monitor progress and agree the next steps.Monthly progress is reported to the HLF officers.
- The PDO commenced meetings with Trusts across the Initiative area at the end of October into November.These meetings were used to gather in information on the Trusts previous experiences working on INNS control and with volunteers.This information has been collated and used in the selection of priority catchments for inclusion in SISI.
- An audience Engagement Plan has been developed and circulated amongst Trusts which will ensure that a range of consultation activities are carried out to engage with people across the Initiative area and ensure their input is recorded for the delivery phase planning.This includes an online questionnaire designed to gather information on how people value and enjoy their local water courses and previous experiences with volunteering (http://goo.gl/forms/owc6ukrzrT).
- The PDO has been collating supporting evidence to secure partnership funding.
- The supporting documents for the stage two application are all underway in draft or nearing final draft stage.
RAFTS Project Development
- RAFTS has been successful in securing funds for glochidia surveys of west coast pearl mussel rivers. This work will be undertaken by four west-country Trusts and will deliver a SNH Commissioned Report.
- RAFTS has also been successful is securing funds from Greggs for a multi-year education project in central Scotland. This work will be undertaken by three fisheries Trusts.
- RAFTS continues to work 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.
Bailiff training – Organised by ASFB and IFM, the latest bailiff training examination took place on Saturday 12 December. This examination was well attended, and 20 candidates sat the examination at 4 venues across Scotland. The examination papers will be assessed in early January, with a view to issuing the results as a matter of priority.
Annual Bailiffs Conference – ASFB, Nith DSFB and IFM are collaborating on the organisation of the 2016 Conference. This is likely to be held in late March 2016, and a date will be confirmed as soon as possible.
Events calendar – please look at the Fisheries events calendar HERE. This is hosted by the Scottish Fisheries Co-ordination Centre, and will serve as a ‘one stop shop’ for Scottish fisheries and aquatic science training and event dates.
RAFTS and ASFB Members Meeting and Conference – work is underway to plan the 2016 ASFB and RAFTS Annual Conference. This will take place on 16th-17th March at Battleby Conference Centre, Battleby, by Perth) - please note the date and a programme will be issued in the New Year.