Plan drawn up to tackle alien species
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