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Fisheries Management

The Trust’s Biologist provides scientific advice on fisheries management. The Biologist represents the Western Isles District Salmon Fisheries Board on consultations for renewable energy schemes including major wind farm proposals and off shore wave energy schemes, road improvements, forestry schemes and for new and modified fish farm applications.

The Biologist and his team conduct fish stock assessments and habitat surveys, done in accordance to SFCC protocol. Their website can be accessed via the following. We also make numerous visits to fisheries and angling clubs. The Biologist and Angling Promotion Officer are continuing to run the Salmon in the Classroom project which is funded by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Crown Estate, with the aim of introducing Primary school children to ecological and environmental issues.

The Biologist and Trust staff continue to raise awareness for appropriate biosecurity measures in order to prevent the introduction of the Gyrodactylus salaris parasite and to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive non native species.

Fisheries Management Planning


Project Planning:

Although fishery management plans have been produced in parts of Scotland for some time, there is no formal requirement for and no comprehensive network of such plans. However, at the time, RAFTS and its then members took froward a programme of fishery management plan preparation and implementation supported by a grant of £400k from Scottish Government in each of the years 2008/09 to 2010/11.

The fishery management planning project was aimed at delivering:

  • A network of fishery management plans prepared by fishery trusts and participating District Salmon Fishery Boards across Scotland (by end of year 2008/09)

  • An ongoing programme of genetic sampling and analysis of Atlantic Salmon populations to support local management through the better understanding of in river genetic populations and variation (all project years) and

  • A wide and varied suite of projects implementing fishery management plans across Scotland reflecting local management priorities (all project years).

Individual Fishery Management Plans:

these plans were finalised at the end of 2008/09 following a period of public consultation and review during preparation. Considering the fish and fisheries of each area and the problems and range of measurement actions required, these plans would form the basis upon which our important and valuable fish populations and fisheries would be managed in the years to come. 

the production of such plans for the first time would allow the sector to play an increasingly full and positive role in environmental management and protection in Scotland by, for example, providing a means to link and support - and be supported and recognised by - other initiatives including:

  • Water Framework directive implantation

  • river Basin and Area management Plan preparation and implementation

  • Development planning

  • Management of designated conservative sites and areas

  • Catchment and coastal Zone management plans

  • Local Biodiversity Action Plans

  • Developing Bio-security action plans

OHFT Fisheries Management Plan

The OHFT Fishery Management Plan was issued in early 2009 following consultation with over 50 stakeholders. The main priorities for action set out in the plan are;

  • Angling Promotion

  • Catchment Management

  • Education

  • Practical Advice to Fisheries and Other Stakeholders

  • Bio-security Planning

  • Research and Monitoring

  • Removal of Barriers to Migration

For more information about Fishery Management Planning Projects, please contact the Trust Biologist.


Biosecurity Planning

            OHFT Bio-security Plan 2010/15


Bio-security issues are of increasing economic and ecological significance. Globalisation has expanded the possibilities, extent and complexity of world trade and the growth of the tourism market has expanded the number of destinations for activity holidays and travellers. These trends have led to the increased probability of the unintentional -  as well as intentional - introduction, establishment and spread of non native species, parasites and diseases in Scotland and the U.K. According to a survey - an Audit of Alien Species in Scotland - conducted by scottish National Heritage, there are approximately 1000 non native species present in Scotland. the majority of which exsist in small populations wit little impact on native flora and fauna. However, a small but significant proportion of these non native species are invasive.

Invasive species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity, and their ecological impacts and economic consequences be devastating (e.g Gyrodactylus Salaris). This is reflected in the increasing priority given to invasive non native species in the European, UK and Scottish legal, strategy and planning frameworks. recognition of the importance of prevention, control and eradication of invasive non native species, parasites and diseases in river catchments provide the justification for the implementation of the RAFTS Bio-security planning project.

For more information go to

Project Description

The bio-security planning project was implemented from October 2008 to May 2011 through RAFTS with support from Scottish National Heritage (SNH), the Esmee Fairbain Foundatioon and Scottish Govenrment. Strategic guiance to the project by a Steering Group comprised of representatives from Scottish Government, SNH, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), the GB Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) and the Argyll Fisheries Trust.

The overall aim of the project was the production of local biosecurity plans for each of the 20 constituent trusts of RAFTS. Key project outputs and actions are:

  • Biosecurity plans for each of the 20 member trusts

  • formulation of a biosecurity plan template

  • Rapid response protocols and database

  • Awareness raising and training

OHFT Bio-security Plan

The OHFT Bio-security plan was published in 2010. The plan identifies invasive non native species (INNS) that are known to be present in the area - such as Rhododendron and Japanese Knotweed - but also species that represent a significant threat - such as Gyrodactylus Salaris and the North American signal crayfish. The main priorities are to establish the distribution of a number of INNS on the islands, and also raise awareness to prevent new introduction or potentially damaging species.

With assistance from RAFTS, OHFT produced the Invasive Non Native Species Information Pack



Project Background and Principles

Recent genetic analysis of salmon populations in other rivers has indicated that river stocks may be structured on fine scale into multiple distinct breeding populations. For example, salmon breeding above and below waterfalls or other natural features may often be heritably different in ways that affect their behaviour, survival and reproductive success. This can be true of neighbouring tributary populations and key to allowing each to cope with particular environmental conditions than the other. Therefore intermixing of the populations may not be desirable. In large rivers many different populations can potentially exist and an understanding of this population structure is essential for the development of effective stock conservation and management programmes.

This partnership project between RAFTS, Marine Scotland (MS) Freshwater Laboratory and individual District Salmon Fishery Boards (DSFB) and Fisheries Trusts will combine the financial, management and staff resources of Fisheries Trusts and DSFBs with the scientific and technical genetic analysis expertise and facilities of MS.  It will collect and analyse a databank of tissue samples from river catchments across the length and breadth of Scotland. 

The tissues will be used for molecular genetic screening and the insights gained into local population structuring used to inform and refine local management actions to protect the genetic integrity of our salmon stocks and better manage the economically important fisheries they support. The extent of the co-ordinated programme of sample gathering and analysis is unprecedented in Scotland. 

The work, undertaken first and foremost to inform local management, will also contribute to the MS work on the genetic character of Scottish salmon stocks as part of the pan European NASCO sponsored and EU funded SALSEA-MERGE project.  Funding from this project will cover some of the costs of genetically screening local stocks.  The main funding support for genetic screening will come from Scottish Government funding provided to support local fisheries management activities and from monies raised locally by trusts and boards. This programme of sampling and analysis is currently funded until April 2011.

Further information on the SALSEA project is available at:

Project Aims and Objectives

The project seeks to:  

  • Establish the number and spatial boundaries of breeding populations of salmon within any Scottish river system using micro-satellite genetic markers;

  • Establish the ancestral relationships and functional biological differences between wild salmon stock components across Scottish rivers;

  • Use information and insights gained to improve local management practice and increase the of focus salmon management on local breeding populations as these are the fundamental biological units underpinning recruitment in river stocks

Project Outputs

The project will provide:

  • Detailed local population structure insights for rivers within Fisheries Trust and DSFB areas for application in local management decision making;

  • Atlantic salmon population structure information for river catchments across Scotland;

  • Contribute to the development of national and international scale knowledge and understanding of the factors underlying population structuring; and

  • A tissue sample bank for, subject to all partner agreement, future use in studies of the impacts of environmental change e.g. global warming and for providing further insights as genetic analysis techniques advance.


The Scottish Government awarded a 3-year grant to RAFTS to support the preparation and implementation of fishery management plans across Scotland.  This programme of sampling and analysis is supported by a proportion of this grant due to the pan Scotland interest in this work by RAFTS members.

A number of individual Fisheries Trusts and DSFBs have contributed additional sums to the programme to support analysis of samples.  Further funding will be sought and is anticipated to be confirmed over the course of the project.  Additional funding may allow the extension of the project beyond the current April 2011 end point.  Year 1 support was also provided by a grant award from the Atlantic Salmon Trust.

MS are supporting the project by providing access to line and technical management resources, conducting and completing the genetic screening and analysis within the MS Freshwater Laboratory in Pitlochry and the provision of office and laboratory facilities and equipment support.



OHFT Contribution


As of December 2009 the OHFT has collected approximately 600 samples from 12 catchments throughout the islands. Of these 250 will be analysed through the FASMOP project, and approximately 170 samples have been selected for analysis by the SALSEA project. An interim report into the findings of the study is expected in spring 2010.


For more information on the FASMOP project please contact the Trust Biologist.

Salmon in the Classroom

Salmon in Class

Since 1998 the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust has visited primary schools throughout the Isles to talk about native fish and the freshwater environment.  This programme, called “Salmon in the Classroom”, and aims to get children interested in the fish and bugs of our local lochs, rivers and burns.  The Outer Hebrides is world famous for its salmon and trout; we hope that by talking to pupils they will continue to enjoy and care for the islands freshwaters and fish. Each year we visit a number of schools throughout the islands, and talk about the lifecycle of the salmon and the various challenges they face both in freshwater and the sea.


Salmon, eels and sea trout are not as plentiful as they once were so we must look after them and their habitats carefully.  Pupils listen to a presentation about the lifecycle of the salmon; we receive positive feedback such as ‘my favourite part of the presentation was the life cycle of the salmon because I never knew the names of all the stages that the salmon went through’. Pupils learn about the problems facing fish including chemical pollution, climate change, and alien species. The children think of ways to help fish such as, keeping litter and chemicals away from burns, not wasting energy and contributing to climate change, not killing too many fish on a fishing trip, and not moving water or creatures between rivers.  These types of measure should help to ensure that sea trout, eels and salmon are here for our children (as well as otters, sea eagles, whales, herons, and seals) to enjoy in the future.


For pupils, and teachers, the highlight of the each visit is a chance to see fish and bugs from a near-by stream up close.  We take species such as salmon, sticklebacks, brown trout, eels, and flounder from local burns to show the children.


The programme is kindly sponsored by Scottish Natural Heritage, the Crown Estate, and the Scottish Government via the River and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS),


If you would like to know more about the ‘salmon in the classroom’ project please contact the Trust Biologist.

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