Salmon catches stayed steady de­spite drought

En­vi­ron­ment: River re­view fig­ures con­tinue trend of sta­bil­ity

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY KIERAN BEAT­TIE

The num­ber of salmon catches on the River Dee has re­mained steady for a third year in a row.

It is be­ing seen as fur­ther ev­i­dence the Aberdeen­shire wa­ter­way is re­cov­er­ing from the havoc wrought by Storm Frank four years ago and comes de­spite last sum­mer’s drought.

The River Dee Trust has pub­lished its lat­est an­nual re­view for the 2018-19 pe­riod and re­vealed 3,500 salmon were reeled in on the river in 2018.

Although there were much fewer fish than pre­vi­ous re­cent highs in 2010, 2011 and 2012, when be­tween 8,000 and 9,000 were caught each year, it con­tin­ues a trend of rel­a­tive sta­bil­ity in re­cent years of a lit­tle un­der or above 4,000 salmon.

Of the salmon net­ted by an­glers in 2018, 99.5% were re­leased back into the wild.

The 3,500 fish recorded comes de­spite sig­nif­i­cantly low lev­els of rain­fall amid a heat­wave last sum­mer, which left river lev­els across Scot­land at some of their low­est points in decades.

The river’s ecosys­tem was also im­pacted by Storm Frank at the end of 2015. It caused mil­lions of pounds worth of dam­age in Dee­side.

The River Dee Trust’s re­port said: “The drought through­out Scot­land no doubt im­pacted th­ese low catches but the Dee re­tains its im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion at a na­tional level, again ac­count­ing for nearly 10% of Scot­land’s to­tal rod catch.

“Every au­tumn, we count the num­ber of redds – the equiv­a­lent to nests in the gravel where eggs are laid – pro­duced at sites around the catch­ment to as­sess adult spawn­ing lev­els.

“Dur­ing spawn­ing sea­son 14 sites, each one kilo­me­tre (0.6 miles) in length, are sur­veyed.

“Most sites have been sur­veyed for at least seven years, so we can look for trends.

“In 2018, 30% of sites were above their long-term av­er­age, whereas 64% were be­low their av­er­age and one site was the same.”

Con­cerns had pre­vi­ously been raised that in­va­sive pink Pa­cific salmon could be­come a ma­jor prob­lem in the Dee, af­ter 31 were caught on the river in 2017.

None, how­ever, were recorded on the Dee in 2018, and only a hand­ful have been noted so far this year.

“The Dee re­tains its im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion at a na­tional level”

Pho­to­graph by Chris Sum­ner

DEE-LIGHTFUL: An­drew Fl­itcroft, edi­tor of Trout and Salmon, cast­ing on the River Dee at Ban­chory Lodge.

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