Tavish Scott, who was a Minister in the Labour/LibDem coalition government in the Scottish Parliament, claims he wants to stop the decline of wild salmon.

By Bill Heaney

The Helensburgh Advertiser is reporting that a dozen sites along “a key waterway” leading from Glen Fruin into Loch Lomond are to be restored with cash from Salmon Scotland.

Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association will receive a minuscule £23,000 from mega rich Salmon Scotland to tackle fish migration barriers, plant trees and stabilise banks along the Fruin Water.

The goal, it is reported, is to conserve wild salmon and sea trout populations after a study by Glasgow University found 186 locations where habitats are declining.

Wild salmon and sea trout numbers have been falling for decades on both Scottish coasts thanks to habitat loss, rising river temperatures from climate change, and deforestation in the past.

Many people would add to this the environmental impact of the exponential increase in salmon farm cages off the West Coast of Scotland, including many of the country’s sea lochs.

Plus the pollution and disease amongst the farmed fish, which has been attributed to salmon farming.

A planning application for a new salmon farm on Loch Long was refused by planners, but that decision is currently being appealed.

Residents in the Whistlefield and Portincaple areas on the loch shore have campaigned vigorously to keep it out.

The Advertiser is reporting that Salmon Scotland’s “wild fisheries fund” will restore 12 sites along the Fruin.

Additionally, another £12,381 will go to the Loch Lomond Fishery Trust to work with young people in Garelochhead to offer “practical workshops on fisheries management, bankside strengthening and tree planting”.

Two projects on the Cowal peninsula will also get funding.

Scott Sinclair, treasurer of the Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association, said: “Together with Glasgow University’s Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment, we conducted a thorough assessment of the health of the Loch Lomond fishery.

“This assessment identified more than 180 areas where habitat improvements could benefit salmon and sea trout, laying the groundwork for a multi-year habitat improvement program.

“Thanks to the grant from Salmon Scotland’s wild fisheries fund, we can now kick-start this work and support several habitat improvements along the River Fruin.”

Tavish Scott, former LibDem minister and now chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said salmon farmers were “determined” to address the decline in wild salmon.

He said: “Wild salmon numbers worldwide have been decreasing for the past century, and it is crucial to rely on scientific knowledge to understand the real challenges impacting them.

“The main pressures on wild salmon and trout include habitat loss and rising river temperatures during their return to freshwater rivers for breeding.

“We actively contribute to reversing this decline by supporting community-led projects to restore our rivers and lochs, making a positive global impact.

“Salmon farmers take great pride in sharing their expertise to maximise salmon survival and financially support the protection of Scotland’s wild species.”

Jon Gibb, co-ordinator of the Salmon Scotland wild fisheries fund, added: “The wild fisheries fund is a rare and exceptional opportunity for communities to access vital funds aimed at improving their local rivers and lochs.

“It’s fantastic to support a variety of innovative projects dedicated to conserving and enhancing the habitat, particularly for a species facing extinction in certain areas.

“Wild salmon are currently facing a deep and dire crisis, and the aquaculture sector can play a vital role in mitigating their decline.”

Campaigners against salmon farms will be dismayed that that there is no criticism of the salmon farms contained in the Advertiser report.

Salmon fishing has been dear to the hearts of local people for many years with Loch Lomond, the Rivers Fruin, Leven, Endrick and their many tributaries being favourite places to follow the sport which around West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute has been pursued by ordinary, working people and not confined to the rich as has happened in so many other areas of Scotland. The top of page picture of a salmon was taken by professional photographer Stewart Cunningham at the Pots of Gartness on the River Endrick, near Drymen. Editor

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