the River Slatach

Habitat Restoration

Clear-felled plantation

Clear-felled plantation

Imagebarrier to fish passage

barrier to fish passage

Imagepoaching caused by cattle

poaching caused by cattle

Image

Major declines in salmon and sea trout over the past twenty years have been mainly attributed to poor marine survival. However it is still important to maintain the freshwater environments, and work on any potential problems they may have, so we can maximise freshwater survival and therefore the number of fish heading out to sea.

Freshwater environments in Lochaber tend to have few of the problems suffered in other, more highly populated areas. Problems found in Lochaber include:

Diffuse pollution and shading from badly-managed forestry

We work closely with the Forestry Commission to ensure Forest and Water Guidelines are followed to minimise the impact of Commercial Forestry on rivers and burns.

Barriers to migration

Many rivers have natural barriers to migration such as large waterfalls. Manmade barriers, such as dams and weirs are present on some rivers, and with the increasing number of hydroelectric schemes there are likely to be many more barriers to migration in the future. The Trust is involved in identifying and compensating for such barriers, and removing old barriers which are no longer utilised.

Gravel extraction/quarrying

Removal of aggregate & stone occurs in Lochaber on both a commercial and private scale. Lochaber contains one of the world’s largest quarries and the effect of quarrying techniques on local fish populations must be carefully monitored. Small-scale gravel extraction can cause problems if the gravel forms an important part of spawning grounds for our native fish.

Cattle grazing

Little of Lochaber’s land is suitable for livestock grazing. However there are areas where animals are grazing next to and have access to rivers and burns. This can lead to bank erosion, which in turn leads to siltation of the riverbed, and trampling on spawning grounds/Freshwater Pearl Mussels. Simple measures such as fencing off riverbanks can prevent these problems.

Water abstraction

Water is a valuable resource, and is abstracted from catchment for two main purposes: drinking water, or as an energy source for hydroelectric schemes. By removing water from a catchment, flow and water levels are unavoidably affected. The Lochaber Fisheries Trust is studying both the immediate and long term effects of such schemes on our rivers.

Escapes from freshwater fish farms

The salmon being reared in freshwater cages will differ genetically from those in our local rivers and burns. If large-scale fish escapes occur it could affect the genetic make-up of native fish, which may decrease their chances of survival. The Lochaber Fisheries Trust work with the Fishery Board and local fish farmers to reduce the risk of and develop contingency plans for any such escape. The Trust is working with Bangor University to look at the wide-scale effects of nutrient enrichment from excess feed from fish farms.

The Trust can carry out habitat surveys to identify any problems and to pinpoint good and poor areas of salmonid habitat within a river. This can then focus any efforts to improve upon any problems, or protect areas of good habitat.

Lochaber Fisheries Trust