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Con­ser­va­tion­ists dare to dream that fa­mous loch can re­turn to glory days

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Contents -

A cam­paign to re­store Loch Ma­ree

SALMON & TROUT Con­ser­va­tion Scot­land (S&TCS) is mount­ing a cam­paign to re­store what was for­merly the finest sea-trout fish­ery in Scot­land. Sea-trout stocks in Loch Ma­ree col­lapsed in 1988, one year af­ter the start of salmon farm­ing in Loch Ewe, the sea loch into which Loch Ma­ree drains via the River Ewe. The launch of the S&TCS cam­paign was marked by a Par­lia­men­tary re­cep­tion at Holy­rood at which the new S&TCS film The Demise of Loch Ma­ree, once the world’s finest sea trout fish­ery was pre­miered. The film is a pow­er­ful and graphic illustration of how a poorly sited salmon farm can have a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on what was pre­vi­ously a pro­lific and en­tirely sus­tain­able wild fish­ery. The eight-minute film may be viewed here: www.salmon-trout.org/loch-ma­ree/video/9 T&S en­cour­ages read­ers to view it and, equally im­por­tant, share it on so­cial me­dia. Most read­ers of this mag­a­zine know the ef­fect of sea-lice on wild sea-trout and salmon, but help­ing non-an­glers un­der­stand is cru­cial if change is to be achieved. Andrew Graham-ste­wart, di­rec­tor of S&TCS, said: “With the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, no-one – in­clud­ing Ma­rine Har­vest – would have lo­cated an open-cage salmon farm in such an en­closed sea loch as Loch Ewe. The con­se­quences for wild seatrout and the world-renowned Loch Ma­ree fish­ery have been cat­a­strophic. It is surely no co­in­ci­dence that catches in Loch Ma­ree col­lapsed within a year of the start of salmon farm­ing in the loch and they have never re­cov­ered.” S&TCS has also pub­lished a 67-page study – Col­lapse of Loch Ma­ree sea trout: how cul­pa­ble is salmon farm­ing? – by Dr Andrew Walker MSC PHD, for­merly se­nior sci­en­tist at Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Fish­eries Re­search Ser­vices (the pre­de­ces­sor to Ma­rine Scot­land Sci­ence). It con­cludes that “the in­tro­duc­tion of salmon farm­ing in Loch Ewe close to the River Ewe’s es­tu­ary played a prom­i­nent part in the changes in sea-trout stock dy­nam­ics in the River Ewe sys­tem, lead­ing to the col­lapse of the an­gling fish­ery in Loch Ma­ree.” The study is avail­able on the news feed of salmon-trout.org Hughie Campbell Adamson, chair­man of S&TCS, said: “We fully ac­cept that salmon farm­ing is a very im­por­tant in­dus­try for Scot­land. What we are ask­ing for is the re­lo­ca­tion of those farms that are sim­ply in the wrong place or are in­ca­pable of con­trol­ling sea-lice and thus are caus­ing sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to wild salmon and sea-trout stocks.” The salmon-farm­ing in­dus­try an­nounced in Oc­to­ber 2016 that it aims to dou­ble pro­duc­tion by 2030.

Loch Ma­ree: once the finest sea-trout fish­ery in the world.

S&TCS launches the Ma­ree cam­paign to MSPS at Holy­rood.

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