Plan drawn up to tackle alien species

The Galloway News - - FRONT PAGE - Stuart Gillespie

A Ste­wartry reser­voir is to be drained in a bid to tackle the cray­fish men­ace.

The alien species has been dis­cov­ered in Buit­tle Reser­voir, near Dal­beat­tie.

And Scot­tish Wa­ter is tak­ing the dras­tic ac­tion to get rid of the cray­fish and stop them spread­ing fur­ther.

Dal­beat­tie Angling As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Will Marshall said: “We have been work­ing closely with the other stake­hold­ers and sup­port what is hap­pen­ing. It is some­thing that is go­ing to sup­port the catch­ment in a big way.

“It is cost­ing Scot­tish Wa­ter quite a lot of money but it is be­ing spent to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Scot­tish Wa­ter will also re­stock the reser­voir to get it back to the level of fish, fish­ing and plea­sure, hope­fully by early next spring.”

Gal­loway Fish­eries Trust bi­ol­o­gist Jackie Gra­ham said: “We, in con­junc­tion with the River Urr Dis­trict Salmon Fishery Board and Dal­beat­tie Angling As­so­ci­a­tion are sup­port­ive of the de­ci­sion to erad­i­cate North Amer­i­can Sig­nal cray­fish from the reser­voir.

“This ex­er­cise will help en­sure the pro­tec­tion of im­por­tant fish pop­u­la­tions and fish­eries in the River Urr catch­ment from the well

doc­u­mented dam­age that non- na­tive cray­fish can do.

“Whilst the reser­voir is drained down there are agree­ments in place with Scot­tish Wa­ter and Dal­beat­tie Angling As­so­ci­a­tion that the reser­voir is not open to the pub­lic.”

North Amer­i­can sig­nal cray­fish have been caus­ing prob­lems in Loch Ken and the River Dee for years, dev­as­tat­ing fish stocks and threat­en­ing the angling tourism in­dus­try.

The prob­lem didn’t ap­pear to have spread be­yond the Glenkens but within the past two years the cray­fish have spread to Buit­tle reser­voir 10km away.

Mr Marshall be­lieves they have come from the Dee Catch­ment but have been in­tro­duced at Buit­tle by some­one, ei­ther by ac­ci­dent or on pur­pose.

The cray­fish could cause prob­lems with the River Urr, which is used for salmon fish­ing, but Mr Marshall reck­ons the prob­lem has been caught at the right time and right place to deal with it.

A Scot­tish Wa­ter spokesman said: “Hav­ing ex­ten­sively pre­pared an erad­i­ca­tion ex­er­cise along­side SEPA, the Gal­loway Fish­eries Trust, Dal­beat­tie Angling Club and a num­ber of other or­gan­i­sa­tions con­cerned with con­ser­va­tion in the area, we will be drain­ing the reser­voir with the aim of erad­i­cat­ing and there­fore pre­vent­ing any fur­ther spread of this threat to our lo­cal wildlife.

“We have mon­i­tored the reser­voir and down­stream to en­sure that there has been no spread in the in­ter­ven­ing time. There have also been mea­sures taken to man­age the lo­ca­tion of na­tive species in the reser­voir for their pro­tec­tion dur­ing the pro­ject.

“This ex­er­cise will take place in midAu­gust, last­ing around 48 hours, though the suc­cess of the pro­ject can only be con­firmed year-on-year.

“While the reser­voir is drained we will take the op­por­tu­nity to un­der­take rou­tine valve main­te­nance. It is non-op­er­a­tional and does not sup­ply drink­ing wa­ter.”

Once the work is com­plete, the reser­voir will be re­filled and it is hoped it will be re­opened for the next fish­ing sea­son.

Sup­port Dal­beat­tie Angling As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Will Marshall at Buit­tle Reser­voir

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