On Tuesday we were at Loch Doon to carry out a clean of the Vaki fish counter. Cleaning the Vaki ensures the scanning plates which produce the silhouettes and counts the number fish are not obscured with algae which can grow on the plate surface or debris such as branches which can become stuck in counter orifice. It is important this maintenance is carried out on a regular basis to ensure we have quality data to analyse.
With the levels in the fish pass lowered to a safe level we spent 15 minutes pulling debris and weed from the cage around the counter. Although the actual cleaning only takes a short time, there is a great deal of time organising this activity including preparing risk assessments and methodology statements, obtaining permission from SEPA and work orders from Scottish Power and then drawing down the water levels in the fish pass to allow us to enter it safely. There is a reasonably high level of risk with this task and all health and safety protocols and procedures must be followed at all times.
Once the cleaning was completed we exited the fish pass and tested the counter to ensure everything was working as it should and downloaded the data.
A quick look through the data showed a good sized fish of 88 cm went up through the counter and into the loch last week when we had a bit of rain and the levels brought the river up.
We will return again in October to repeat the maintenance when more fish will be migrating upstream to spawn.