We met with Scottish Power this morning to discuss our concerns over fish passage that have been highlighted as a result of our ongoing study of the burns around the loch.
While we see an obvious requirement to continue this work, SP are of the opinion that should further work be necessary, SEPA should either deliver it or instruct it. While that’s disappointing, it is perhaps understandable as SEPA’s classification for fish passage is ‘high’ and therefore it is hardly justifiable for SP to spend money on a issue ‘that they haven’t been informed of by the Regulator so effectively there isn’t a problem!’ That sounds almost unbelievable but when you consider that they have to justify their expenditure to the management in Spain, we can understand that the Water Framework Classification has to show the problem before money can be allocated to putting anything right. It seems where there is a lack of data or information on an issue such as migration, then the default categorisation is ‘high’.
Following the meeting we discussed our concerns with SEPA fish ecologists this afternoon and will confirm our opinions and findings in writing asap. We do hope this problem is corrected soon as the salmon from the upper Doon catchment are ‘hanging on by a fingernail’.
On the way back to the office we stopped to check the counters at the dam. The Vaki that records adult salmon migrating through the fish pass showed that 3 salmon entered the loch earlier in June following the spates. The PIT tag reader has yet to record any of the tagged smolts passing through the ladder. If they arrive at all, they are badly delayed on the seaward migration that commenced in April. What impact such a delay may have on these wee fish doesn’t bear thinking about but sadly, if they don’t go, they are as good as dead anyway.
We don’t give up easily and will work with SP and SEPA to resolve these issues in due course. I just hope the salmon can hold on and I’m not retired before there’s improvement!