The main focus of the Board’s attention on barrier removal in 2013 has been the barrier on the Culburnie burn. Discussions continue with SEPA staff with a view to speedy removal as part of the overall RAFTS/SEPA project, however progress is slow. SEPA and NBFT will now draw up plans with an associated timescale and further details should be available shortly.
In 2013 the Ness & Beauly Fisheries Trust (NBFT) continued its work on non-native species in the Beauly District Fishery Board catchment. The treatment of Japanese Knotweed on the Bridgend Burn, Beauly appears to have been largely successful and follow up treatments will be undertaken, assuming landowner permission, in 2014. A survey was undertaken within the catchment during the summer to facilitate mapping of the extent of the non-native plant issue on the Beauly catchment. This also resulted in a small area of Himalayan balsam being removed by the contractor. The data will be assessed and a strategy for control/removal of key species developed.
(Posted 17/2/14) The total recorded catch for 2013 was disappointing. Although spring catches were encouraging, the summer fishing was difficult. As with much of the country, the prolonged drought resulted in low river levels, high temperatures with consequent weed growth and low oxygen levels. Fish were dour and unwilling to take. The dam count figures indicate a lower than average run, but not quite as poor as the catches alone would suggest. As with most recent years, the grilse arrived a little later than was historically the case.
Dam Counts: – Figures received from SSE for Aigas Dam up to 3 November 2013 indicate a total run through the dam to the upper beats of approximately 3,002 fish. This is below the 5-year average of around 3,900, primarily due to a weaker grilse run. Final year figures are still awaited from SSE.
More salmon are set to access the Ness and Beauly river systems thanks to an agreement that is the first step in a major strategy to reverse the decline of the local salmon populations.
The Ness District Salmon Fishery Board, working in partnership with the Beauly District Fishery Board, has reached agreement with the operators of two key salmon netting stations in the Moray Firth to cease netting until at least May next year.
One-off compensation payments have been made to Sandy Patience, operator of the Kincurdie station off Rosemarkie, and Graham Sutherland, operator at Longman Point, close to the Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC stadium.
The two netting stations recorded a combined catch of 440 salmon and grilse last year. Allowing the free passage of an equivalent number of fish this season has the potential to result in more than a million extra salmon eggs being deposited in local river systems. Even at the naturally low survival rate of such eggs, the Board hopes this results in the return of up 1,000 new fish to our rivers over the coming years.