The Scottish Salmon Company supports UHI project – Fishfarmer Magazine

The Scottish Salmon Company supports UHI project14 February, 2012 –

West Coast River Carron Project Funding Confirmed.

A three year funding package has been secured by Inverness College UHI to support the development and research of the West Coast River Carron salmon and sea-trout restoration project. A combined package of £300k over three years is coming from Scottish Sea Farms (through the Heart of the Community Trust), Scottish Salmon Company, three aquaculture feed companies (EWOS, Skretting and BIOMAR), the River Carron Improvement Association (“RCIA”) and Inverness College UHI.

Shaun Macdonald, Convenor of the RCIA said: “The regeneration of the River Carron has exceeded all our expectations for which we are grateful to Inverness College UHI and Bob Kindness. We welcome the co-operation and support of the fish farming industry for continued research into solutions that we all seek: the development of remedial measures to offset the uncertainties of salmonid marine survival and the preservation of biodiversity in the River Carron.”

John Rea, Production Manager for SSF’s Scotland region commented: “The determination of Inverness College UHI and the RCIA in refusing to let this west coast river die is exemplary. The expertise of Bob Kindness, supported by a collective willingness to “do what is possible”, has shown you can make choices which deliver healthy fish returns despite unknowable marine risks to wild salmon. Much has still to be scientifically revealed – I hope SSF’s funding for the College and UHI can help break the barriers to making use of this pioneering approach.”

Henry Dalgety, Freshwater Manager at The Scottish Salmon Company, added: “We are delighted to collaborate on and support this very important project. We have been involved with the project for a number of years and operate in the area. It’s encouraging to see a significant increase in the river’s stocks and we understand important lessons can be learned from The River Carron Project which can be taken elsewhere.”

A statement from EWOS, BIOMAR and Skretting said: “The feed companies are pleased to support this project and believe it will demonstrate the potential of stock enhancement as a way of improving wild salmonid populations.”

Salmon represent an important economic resource for the area, both through the attraction of tourists to improved angling opportunities and the generation of local employment by the fish farming industry.

In the past the River Carron supported significant salmon and sea trout populations, but during the 1990s the declared rod catch collapsed, falling to a five year average in 2001 of only 6 salmon and 12 sea trout. Working with the RCIA, Inverness College began a restocking programme with the aim of restoring the salmon and sea trout populations of the river. Under the management of Bob Kindness, brood stock, produced from eggs stripped from wild fish caught in the river, were the basis for restoring fish populations. By 2004, the declared annual salmon rod catch had recovered to 141 fish and has continued to increase, averaging over 250 salmon a season. In 2010 a record rod catch of 419 fish was recorded. Sea trout catches have also recovered significantly, reaching almost 200 in each of the last 3 seasons.

There is now a significant opportunity to investigate fully the evidence for how stocking can be used for restoration and the extent to which the approach on the Carron may be applicable on other rivers. The research will use a number of methods to test these key questions, including genetics, electrofishing and detailed assessment of the biodiversity of the Carron catchment.

John Spencer, Principal & Chief Executive Inverness College UHI said: “This is a significant development for the River Carron project, enabling the College to enhance research activity in this area and grow our research as a partner in the University of the Highlands and Islands. We are pleased to continue our long standing collaboration with the River Carron Improvement Association and welcome the involvement of the fish farming and feed industries. The collaborative nature of this funding recognises the need to build on the considerable achievements and commitment of staff to the project, and we look forward to developing this over the next three years.”