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