Fisheries Management Scotland is delighted to see that two projects led by our members, the Forth Rivers Trust and the Spey Fishery Board, have been shortlisted for the Nature of Scotland Awards 2019. The 8th annual Nature of Scotland Awards co-sponsored by Scottish Natural Heritage will take place on Wednesday 4 December 2019 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh.

The Forth Rivers Trust, in partnership with West Lothian Council, Scottish Government, SEPA and the National Lottery Heritage Fund have installed a rock ramp on the Howden weir on the River Almond, West Lothian. The weir at Howden, Livingston was originally built to provide water to local mills and is still very necessary for protecting the road bridge just upstream. It cannot be removed, but it was built without consideration to migratory fish such as Atlantic salmon, sea trout, eels and lamprey. The rock ramp, at 185m in length and completed in 2019, is the longest rock ramp in the UK and is a biodiversity enhancing solution to a weir blocking the river. By building a natural looking rock ramp in the channel, migratory fish can now ascend the weir to complete their journey upriver. The rock ramp has also created habitat for a myriad of insects, fish, birds and mammals, providing many additional benefits to wildlife.

Alison Baker, the Manager of the Forth Rivers Trust said:

“The Forth Rivers Trust has been working with West Lothian and City of Edinburgh Councils to deliver the easement of 7 barriers to fish passage on the River Almond. Four weirs have had easements installed over the last two years – two technical fish passes, a by-pass channel and the largest Rock Ramp in the UK at Howden Bridge Weir. The work has been funded by the Scottish Government, SEPA, West Lothian and Edinburgh City Councils and the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the RiverLife: Almond & Avon project. We are delighted that the Howden Bridge Rock Ramp has been shortlisted for the Nature of Scotland Awards – Coast and Waters category. The rock ramp has been designed to allow fish passage at all flows and for all species #LetTheFishDecide”

The Spey Fishery Board have worked closely with Tamdhu Distillery to install the longest Alaskan style fish pass in the UK on the Knockando Burn, a tributary of the River Spey. A dam was constructed on the burn over 120 years ago, to retain cooling water for Tamdhu Single Malt Whisky Distillery. This created an impassable obstruction of 4.5m in height to returning Atlantic salmon. Financed and led by Tamdhu Distillery, in collaboration with Knockando Estates, Spey Fishery Board and SEPA, work on the fish pass was completed in August 2018 to allows the migration of Atlantic salmon to breed for the first time in 120 years. Since then a fish camera has also been installed, but prior to that Spey Fisheries have monitored effectiveness and determined that fish have successfully migrated up the pass – a fantastic outcome.

Brian Shaw, the Biologist for the Spey Fishery Board said:

“The Spey Fishery Board were delighted to be involved with the Tamdhu fish pass on the Knockando Burn, from inception to delivery. Led by Tamdhu Distillery, this was a truly collaborative project, involving a great team including designers, agencies, and local fabricators and contractors. Many on Speyside thought that fish passage on the Knockando Burn would never be realised; it was just too challenging, but the “Alaskan Steep” fish pass selected was a novel solution for the site and has proven to be highly successful. Many fish were observed spawning upstream last autumn, for the first time in over 100 years. We look forward to watching, and documenting, the full recolonisation of the burn in future years.”