The River Carron Restoration Project has made significant progress with this year’s first batch of salmon smolts now released successfully into the river.
The project, which is funded by Scottish Sea Farms, The Scottish Salmon Company, EWOS, BIOMAR, Skretting and the River Carron Improvement Association, will release further batches of fry into the Carron in the autumn with their progress followed carefully by a team of scientists at Inverness College UHI.
The project has also been boosted by the arrival of Professor Eric Verspoor, who has been recruited by the College to develop a research institute focused on freshwater biodiversity. Formerly of Marine Scotland Science, Professor Verspoor will be involved in the Carron Restoration Project through the implementation of a scientific framework, particularly focused on using genetic techniques to inform the stocking programme.
Melanie Smith, Head of Research Development at UHI said: “We are all delighted with the progress achieved in such a short space of time and are monitoring the fish very closely. By taking genetic samples from the parent fish used as broodstock and samples from fish caught in the river, questions surrounding which fish are of stocked origin and which fish are from eggs laid in the river by wild Carron salmon can be addressed. Over the course of the next few years this will allow UHI to follow the progress of each of the stocked batches through their various life stages, providing invaluable information on the efficacy of the stocking programme. We are grateful to all our sponsors for making this very valuable project possible.”
The genetic work is being supported by a number of other research activities on the river. A rotary screw trap has been operating through the smolt season for the last five years, and has been successful again in 2012, capturing in excess of 5000 salmon smolts and 700 sea trout smolts to date this year. Each of these fish is inspected and measured before being released, and provides a measure of the number of smolts produced by the river each year, as well as a measure of the effects predators may be having on the smolt run. In addition, invertebrate samples have recently been taken from different parts of the river to identify areas of high productivity.
Melanie concluded: “It is anticipated that 2012 will be a good year for rod catches of sea trout and salmon on the Carron, as both 2010 and 2011 were the best years on record. Although the season has been off to a slow start due to the remarkably dry weather in NW Scotland, with plenty of rain now forecast it is hoped the season will pick up dramatically.”
The River Carron is located in Wester Ross on the West Coast of Scotland.