Project Archive

 

Upper Lyon Salmon Genetic Study

A short section of the upper River Lyon was divided from the rest of the river by the construction of a low hydro dam, Stronuich Dam around 1960. A fish pass allows salmon access to a few km of spawning habitat above before access is totally blocked by the larger Lubreoch Dam. A joint study between the Tay Rivers Trust, the Board and the University of the Highlands and Islands was performed in order to understand more about the status of the salmon population spawning above Stronuich Dam and its relationship to those fish spawning below. The work involved obtaining DNA from samples of juvenile salmon from these different areas and assigning them to family groups.

The analyses found no evidence of juveniles hatched above the dam colonising the river immediately below the dam or vice versa. There was also a degree of genetic differentiation between salmon above Stronuich Dam and those immediately below, indicating these were two partially separate spawning populations. In fact, the fish above the dam appeared to be split into a number of genetically identifiable population units while those immediately below were not. This may have been related to the fact that there are numerous spawning bars between the dams and thus may demonstrate that adult salmon can actually home back not only to their native stretch, but to individual natal spawning fords.

There had been concerns over the viability of the salmon population between the dams, but for such population differentiation to be maintained there clearly had to be a viable number of smolts going to sea and adults returning. While the area above Stronuich Dam might be less productive than below, it still contributes an additional number of salmon to the River Lyon.

This information, when combined with long term electrofishing data, indicated that the juvenile salmon population in the upper Lyon, immediately below Stronuich Dam at least, is about or at its carrying capacity and even though spawning habitat looks relatively scarce, there must still be enough. However, growth rates are particularly low and so the most likely method of enhancing this population would be by increasing food availability and not stocking, for example.

Read the River Lyon Salmon Genetics Report now.

River Garry Rewatering

On 30 October 2017, a flow was restored to the main stem of the River Garry which had been dry for over 60 years because of hydro abstraction. As a blocking weir at Struan had been removed some months earlier, salmon could once again access 13 km of main stem habitat long denied. Weeks later, a flow was also restored to the Allt Glas Choire, giving salmon access to 5km of tributary too. A further 4km above the Glas Choire intake, in which smolt screens have been installed, is being stocked with salmon as mitigation. This restoration was ultimately a result of requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive which is implemented in Scotland by SEPA. However, the Board particularly contributed tirelessly over many years to see this process come to fruition.

The new licence conditions require SSE to maintain a flow of 1 cumec at Dalnamein and 0.2 cumecs in the Allt Anndeir, the tributary joining the Garry below Dalnamein. While this is an adequate flow for juvenile salmon, it needs to be proven to be sufficient for adult migration and spawning. As fine tuning may be required in future, an adaptive management monitoring plan has been agreed by SEPA, SSE and the Board to learn how the ecology, including salmon, responds to the restored flow.

If all this new habitat is used by salmon then another 1500 early running salmon could be produced. The restoration of the River Garry is the biggest individual project for the benefit of spring salmon that could be performed in the Tay catchment. We are very pleased the Garry has now been restored after years of discussion and wish to thank SSE and SEPA for this great work that has been done.

Juvenile Salmon Survey Reports

One of the most practical ways of assessing the health of populations of river fish such as salmon or trout is to monitor numbers of juveniles using electrofishing.

Electrofishing data in itself is not necessarily that informative unless it can be put into context in terms of how many fish a healthy river ought to hold.

One way of doing this is by monitoring individual sites year on year so that trends in population abundance can be detected.

We have surveyed a number of tributaries annually for a number of years, in some instances since 1999. A summary report was produced in 2009 and then updated in 2018. These reports make fascinating reading and can be accessed through the links {to add} below. On the whole, they found that, in most tributaries, while there is variation in juvenile salmon numbers from year to year, it is clear that while it might not be possible to conclude they are at full carrying capacity they are certainly not “grossly understocked”.

However, there were a few places which were clearly understocked but factors like limited access for adult spawners seemed to be responsible. Stocking with eggs and fry in some such instances was shown to successfully increase juvenile salmon numbers.

Read the 2009 juvenile survey report

Read the 2018 juvenile survey report

Weir Removal

Over the years we have removed, breached or eased a number of old structures which impeded the passage of salmon and trout. Here are some examples.

Cloan Fish Farm Weir

In the autumn of 2010 the owner of an old weir on the Cloan Burn near Auchterarder agreed to allow the weir to be demolished. A contractor was employed to cut a section out of the weir. While this particular weir is not a major obstacle to migrating fish its removal will help in certain years. This tributary of the River Earn is particularly productive for sea trout.

Urlar Burn Weir

In a project performed in conjunction with the Tay Ghillies Association, a derelict weir on the Urlar Burn at the Birks of Aberfeldy was demolished by a contractor in 2009. The removal of this weir has opened up another 1.5km of this significant tributary to salmon in an area where accessible tributary habitat is very limited.

Dowie Burn Debris Dam

The mouth of the Dowie Burn, which enters the Tay just upstream of Meikleour, was blocked by two substantial jams of branches which had backed up from the River Tay. There were concerns that this debris would prevent the entry of spawning salmon and sea trout, although an electrofishing survey did demonstrate that some salmon found passage. It was decided therefore that the blockages should be cleared. As this stream is part of an SSSI, permission was obtained from Scottish Natural Heritage and the log jams were removed during the summer of 2008 by the Board’s fisheries officer staff.

Read more about the Dowie dams now.

Keithick Weir

A redundant weir on the lower reaches of the Keithick Burn prevented migratory fish from accessing this significant tributary of the lower Isla. Work was undertaken on the weir in several stages and it was finally opened in 2008. The work was kindly funded by the Tay Ghillies Association and SEPA’s Water Environment Fund.

Monitoring the Effectiveness of Stocking

A significant effort is devoted to restocking salmon in the Tay district. The unique Kelt Reconditioning Project is a good example of this.

It is essential that stocking is evaluated to see how well it works, to identify best practice and best value for money. Therefore, most of the stocking we do is monitored by electrofishing or other means as appropriate.

A good example concerns a debate that exists regarding the possible survival rates that can be achieved by stocking salmon as fed-on fry/parr as opposed to eyed ova/unfed fry. In order to help inform this debate, we have conducted trials at the Almondbank hatchery to compare the survival and growth performance of salmon stocked at different stages. Streams where salmon are naturally absent were stocked with eyed ova or unfed fry and again in autumn with fed-on parr from the same broodstock batches. Follow-up electrofishing surveys were used to assess any differences in survival, growth or condition. A first season’s findings proved that, without marking, it was very difficult to tell the two types apart, thereafter the fed fish were marked. Once this was done it was clear that fed-on parr stocked in the mainstem of the River Braan, a tributary of the Tay up which salmon cannot ascend naturally, survived well compared to some other trials elsewhere.

River Flow Estimation

Water abstraction, particularly for hydro power, is a major issue in the Tay district. The highest profile example was the upper River Garry which was practically dry over 21km, now partly restored (for detailed information on that issue see {add link}). That restoration and other potential restorations only came about as a result of the EU Water Framework Directive. In order to inform decisions, SEPA and SSE, which operates the major hydro schemes in the catchment, use specialist flow estimation software to predict what natural flows might be in watercourses that lack detailed flow gauging data.

The Tay Foundation supported the purchase of the same software so that fisheries managers could have access to the same information and engage in any debates with sufficient authority. The Board made good use of that software in a major response to a SEPA consultation.

Read the SEPA consultation response now.

River Tay Trial Salmon Extension

The salmon angling season on the River Tay and its tributaries starts on 15 January and closes on 15 October. The rivers Earn and Eden start slightly later but close on 31 October.

Around 2010, it was felt that because the best catches of the season for some lower Tay beats were often made in the last two weeks of the season, a significant proportion of the “autumn” run may have entered the river after the end of the angling season. Indeed, in some years, the run must have continued at some level until January on the basis of the numbers of silvery yet-to-spawn fish caught at the start of the season.

In 2011, it was decided to review the closing and opening dates of the Tay season. Permission was sought from Scottish Ministers for a trial extension to 31 October for three years, commencing October 2011. That was granted, but was restricted to the main stem of the Tay only, from Perth to Dalguise. It did not apply to the upper Tay or tributaries because autumn salmon were thought to mainly spawn in the main stem of the river with spring salmon in upper tributaries.

During the trial extension period, it was a legal requirement that all salmon had to be released and no bait could be used. Detailed information on each fish caught was requested from anglers. A final condition of participation was that one third of the letting income had to be donated to the Tay Foundation to facilitate improvements and other projects throughout the entire district. This raised £5,270 in 2011 (the licence was granted end of August 2011 not giving enough time to sell much fishing), £32,766 in 2012, £35,592 in 2013 and £28,735 in 2014.

On completion of the trial in October 2014, the Board’s priority was to decide whether to seek to make the extension permanent or otherwise. After debate, proprietors voted against. Somewhat ironically, late running autumn salmon have suddenly become scarcer since 2016.

Read the detailed report on the findings of the trial extension now.

Shochie Burn Fish Counter

The Shochie Burn is a tributary which joins the River Tay at Luncarty. For salmon, it is the most significant burn sized tributary to enter the main stem of the Tay directly since other similar sized burns are naturally inaccessible because of waterfalls.

It was widely stated by locals that runs of salmon in the Shochie had reduced. In order to understand more about the numbers of salmon and sea trout in the burn, a resistivity fish counter was installed in a fish pass its lower reaches in 2011. The counter had previously been installed in the River Ericht

In the autumn of 2011 the counter recorded a net upstream count of 793, in 2012 it counter 786 and in 2013 it counted 555. Most ascents tended to take place in October several weeks before the fish probably spawned. The counts also tended to occur at night and be coincident with rises in water. This reinforces the likelihood these were genuine fish. False counts might be expected to occur randomly.

Unfortunately, the counter was removed during the autumn of 2014 as it proved too attractive to beavers which kept blocking it up every night.

Salmon Exploitation Study

Until recently, the most important run of fish on the Tay, from an angling point of view, was the autumn run. However, despite its financial importance, little was known about the actual size of the population, only angling catches.

In some other rivers mark-recapture experiments using tagged fish had been used to try to ascertain the size of main river populations from rod catch data. For example, salmon had been tagged each September at a net fishery on the River Tweed, revealing that anglers generally caught less than 10% {link}

During a period when an extension of the salmon angling season was under consideration it was felt such information would be helpful for the Tay too. As the Tay no longer had operating net fisheries of an appropriate scale, the Tay Foundation, which leases the major net fishing rights on the Tay, sanctioned some experimental netting in order to catch fish for tagging and release. Some former netsmen volunteered to operate the nets in autumn 2011.

In practice, salmon netting in the upper estuary of the Tay proved unproductive. Only two fish were caught and floy tagged for several days. As it was clear the effort was unsustainable this project was abandoned.

Lowland Burn Survey

In recent times most of the fishery management interest in Tayside has been centred around upland tributaries where spring salmon spawn. However, the biggest problems are often found in lowland tributaries.

Accordingly, in the early months of 2010, a survey of tributaries of the lower Tay, lower Isla and lower Earn was conducted. The work was done by Board staff, supported by the Tay Foundation which received financial support from the Scottish Government (administered by Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland).

A number of previously unknown obstructions to fish migration were identified along with other issues. For example, high loads of fine sediment appear to be a major problem in some of the Isla tributaries in particular.

Read the detailed report on the Lowland Burn Survey now.

Tay Biosecurity Plan

The Tay Foundation was a partner in the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland’s Biosecurity Project. This initiative from2008 required all the fisheries trusts in Scotland to produce river plans to prevent the introduction of or manage invasive species or fish parasites.

Invasive species are a very great threat to the health of the Tay and other rivers. Several species of invasive plants have already altered the character of river banks. Signal crayfish and freshwater lice are already here.

It is an absolute necessity that clear plans are available to deal with these threats.

Download the Tay Biosecurity Plan now.

Introduction to Salmon Angling

In 2012, the Tay Foundation was involved in a new venture with Angling for Youth Development (AFYD) to provide opportunity for disadvantaged children to try salmon fishing.

The Tay Foundation rented the Fishponds beat on the lower Tay beat for a week and professional angling instructors gave their time to introduce children to angling.

Scottish Mink Initiative

The Tay Foundation, along with other organisations, was a partner in an ambitious project which aimed to eradicate breeding mink from a large area of north east and northern Scotland, including northern Perthshire. The Scottish Mink Initiative was established in 2011 by Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS). It was a precursor to the more recent Scottish Invasives Species Initiative (SISI) which has replaced it.

The mink is a non-native predator which is recognised as having a serious impact on many native species, notably the water vole. They can also have an impact on native fish populations.

Dall Burn Weir Survey

The Dall Burn is a tributary of Loch Rannoch which, apart from the River Gaur, is the largest individual tributary which could be of value to spawning loch trout and salmon. Most of the other significant tributaries are either naturally inaccessible to migrating fish or impacted by hydro water abstraction.

However, an impassable weir prevents fish from ascending more than a few hundred yards of the Dall Burn. If this barrier could be circumvented a significant amount of valuable nursery habitat could be added to the Loch Rannoch catchment.

A professional survey to determine the most appropriate type of fish pass for the Dall Burn weir was conducted in autumn 2010. The survey was funded by SEPA’s Water Environment Restoration Fund. Easing this barrier is one of SEPA’s priorities under the 3rd Scotland River Basin Management Plan.

Ordie Burn Tree Thinning

For much of the length of the Ordie Burn from its confluence with the Shochie Burn near Luncarty to the upstream limit of salmon and sea trout penetration, the banks of the burn are lined by a dense corridor of alders which effectively “tunnel” the stream and reduce light input in summer.

Being in a fertile agricultural area, the dense shading is likely to reduce in-stream primary productivity and reduce the growth of marginal vegetation developing which would provide cover for fish.

In the late winter of 2010, dense shading alders were thinned out over a 1.75km stretch of the middle reaches of the burn, as part of a collaborative project between the Tay Foundation and the Board. This added to thinning work which was conducted in 2005 over a one kilometre stretch on another nearby property. That site was also revisited and some of the regrowth removed.

The actual felling and pruning work was carried out by Board staff who had been trained in chainsaw use. Specialist contractors were employed to tidy up the site by chipping the large amount of brushwood produced. That work was funded by the Tay Foundation through from a grant received from the Scottish Government administered by Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland.

Errochty Water Tree Thinning

The Errochty Water is an important spring salmon tributary which joins the River Garry at Struan. Its upper reaches were dammed as part of the Tummel–Garry hydro scheme and it receives a compensation flow from Errochty Dam. Because the compensation water is drawn from the bottom of the dam, the water temperature is cooler in spring and early summer than it would be naturally. Furthermore, a dense stand of alders had grown up along both banks and was creating dense shade along its entire 10 km length. This shading increased the time taken for the water to warm up in summer and, therefore, reinforced the effect of the dam. Dense shading by trees can also suppresses the growth of algae which feeds the invertebrates which in turn feeds the fish.

Initially, as part of the Conservation of Atlantic Salmon in Scotland (CASS) Project – a project funded by the EU LIFE Programme – trees were thinned out along four kilometres of the Errochty in 2008. The project aimed to reduce shading by over 50% by removing alternate trees and lopping low level branches where appropriate. The felling work was largely conducted by Board staff but a contractor was employed to tidy up the brushwood by chipping.

After the end of the CASS project, the Tay Foundation was able to facilitate work on another 2km of the Errochty in 2009 through a generous grant from the Scottish Government / Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland. This work meant that two thirds of the length of the Errochty Water were completely transformed and conditions should have become more productive for juvenile salmon.

Work avoided a section of the river which was identified as important for resting otters.

Tay District Fisheries Management Plan

In 2008 the Scottish Government provided funding to fisheries trusts to produce standardised fisheries management plans for their respective catchments.

This project was coordinated and administered by Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS). The Tay Fisheries Management Plan was written by the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board on the Tay Foundation’s behalf.

The plan, which covers all fish species, detailed the many issues impacting on fish stocks in the Tay district and their fisheries. It also listed the many tasks which may be required to improve matters. The final version of the plan was subject to public consultation. It is a must-read document for anyone interested in Tay fisheries and the issues surrounding them.

Please read the Tay District Fisheries Management Plan now.

Site Condition Monitoring

1he River Tay and those of its tributaries which are accessible to adult salmon (but not including the River Earn) was designated an EU Special Area of Conservation for Atlantic salmon, otters and lampreys.

That status placed a requirement under the EU Habitats Directive 1992 for the species of interest and their habitats to be maintained at “favourable conservation status”. The conservation status of the species concerned should not deteriorate after a site has been designated.

In order to determine whether favourable conservation status of SACs is being maintained, member states have a requirement for periodic monitoring of the populations of interest. This is known as site condition monitoring.

As part of this process an extensive survey of juvenile salmon was undertaken in 2005 on the Tay and other SAC rivers. The Tay came out favourably in that survey. A further survey was conducted in 2011. Read the report of the 2011 survey now.

FASMOP Project

Salmon from different tributaries of the River Tay constitute separate breeding populations. This structuring of the population is very important as it helps to maintain, for example, the highly varied timing of runs of fish returning throughout the year.

By the late 2000s it was believed that advances in genetic analysis had made it possible to “fingerprint” juvenile salmon from individual tributaries and even to use this information to identify the tributaries of origin of fresh run adult fish.

Such information would aid the identification of vulnerable salmon populations and help target conservation measures on issues impact on them.

As part of a pan-Scotland initiative, the Tay Foundation, assisted by the Board, provided samples of juvenile salmon to the Focusing Atlantic Salmon Management on Populations (FASMOP) project in order to create a genetic baseline for the tributaries of the Tay.

However, in the event, the genetic markers available did not quite provide enough resolution everywhere. Funding for the project was provided by the Scottish Government and the Atlantic Salmon Trust and organised by Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland. 

Invasive Plants Survey 2006

In the early 2000s it was recognised certain species of non-native plants, notably Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed were making rapid encroachments on parts of the Tay system, as in many other Scottish rivers.

These species are aggressive and spread rapidly, crowding out native plant species and have a general detrimental effect on river ecology. Neither are easy to control. Therefore, it was considered that management was required urgently before those species became even more dominant.

As a first step in such a process it was necessary to determine the extent of these plants at that time. Therefore, the Tay Foundation supported a survey of the distribution of these plants along the Tay and its tributaries over the summer of 2006.

Read the report of that invasive plant survey now.

River Lyon Project

Informal investigations by the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board supported by the Tay Foundation in the early 2000s indicated that damming of the River Lyon had resulted in a change in the river’s temperature regime and perhaps other factors and that these may have caused a reduction in the abundance of invertebrates, and consequently fish stocks. A resume of those findings is available here {link}.

In order to properly investigate these issues, the Tay Foundation, the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board and SSE plc supported a three year PhD study into the effects of flow regulation on invertebrates in the River Lyon. This was conducted by the Department of Geography and Environment of the University of Aberdeen. The thesis was submitted in the summer of 2006 and duly accepted.

The study confirmed earlier findings that the ecology of the upper River Lyon differed from that of the neighbouring River Lochay or further down the Lyon and that impacts caused by flow regulation appeared responsible. Please read the published paper now.

Impacts of this type are well known from other parts of the world but this was the first time such impacts had been studied in such detail in Scotland.

Eradicating North American Signal Crayfish

North American signal crayfish were introduced to Britain some decades ago and represent a major threat to the natural ecology of our rivers.

Their numbers can be prolific and they can dominate those environments they invade. They eat almost anything, vegetable matter, carrion and fish if they can get them. They threaten small fish because they hide in the same crevices among stones or under banks that fish like young salmon and trout use too.

By 2006, signal crayfish were present in the upper Earn and several other locations in Tayside but were not known to be present in the Tay, but they were present in a pond from which they could potentially escape into a Tay tributary.

As that population of crayfish represented a direct threat which might then still have been preventable, the Board, with a contribution from the Tay Foundation collaborated in a project to eradicate it before the crayfish spread. The procedure used to eradicate the crayfish had only once been used previously, in some ponds near Edzell in 2004. The same expert participated in this project too.

The work was very challenging but considered successful. It involved poisoning crayfish in two ponds and in a connecting small burn.

However, since that time, another population of signal crayfish has been found in the same locality. It was confirmed that crayfish from that other population had become established in the Blackwater in 2010. In 2020, for the first time, significant reports of their presence were received from the River Ericht below the Blackwater / Ardle conflucence.

A report on the 2006 eradication project is provided here. {link}

Argulus (Freshwater Lice)

Freshwater lice, Argulus, are parasites which live on and eat the skin of fish.

In appearance, they are similar to sea lice, except adults are slightly larger, are clearish in colour and have prominent eyes. They thrive in slow and still water when the weather is warm. Significant damage to fish can occur under prolific outbreaks.

It is not known how these parasites reached Tayside but one species (Argulus coregoni) appears to have been present in the lower reaches of the Isla and to a lesser extent the Tay for several decades and in the Earn for perhaps even longer. A second species (Argulus foliaceus) is present in a number of smaller stillwaters where it has been a major problem for stocked rainbow trout.

Following reports in 2005 we conducted a survey to assess their distribution and abundance during the summer of 2006.

Please read the Argulus report now.

Since 2006, reports of Argulus in rivers have been relatively, presumably on account of the fact most summers have generally been wetter.

River Cononish Investigation

The River Cononish, the headwaters of the River Dochart, is the symbolic source of the River Tay. It also produces some of the earliest spring salmon for which the Tay is most famous.

Surveys in the 1990s and early 2000s indicated the juvenile salmon population was very poor. Local anecdote suggested brown trout had declined greatly in 30 years.

It was not clear why that should have been so, as the general quality of the habitat is good. Given the importance of this area, the Tay Foundation supported an investigation into the invertebrate community to see whether there might be some subtle water quality issue.

That survey, conducted in 2006, showed that, in summer, the abundance of invertebrates in the upper Cononish was low but the species present were representative of what might be expected in that type of environment. Numbers of juvenile salmon were low in the same area, even where artificial stocking had taken place. However, a few km downstream, below the village of Tyndrum, invertebrate abundance was much higher and the species assemblage indicated what might be considered evidence of “enrichment”, perhaps as a result of discharge from Tyndrum sewage works.

However, at that point, the density of naturally spawned juvenile salmon was high and growth rates were surprisingly high for such an environment. The apparent enrichment appeared to be having a significant benefit for the salmon population.

Read the Survey Report.

Since 2006 electrofishing surveys have continued to be conducted annually in this area, the results of which are published elsewhere on this website. {link} The Board continued to stock parts of the Cononish with eyed salmon ova and fry derived from reconditoned kelts until 2019.

Since the 2006 survey, the density of juvenile salmon increased in the Cononish but their growth rates fell markedly, suggesting the stocking experiment had the effect of saturating the habitat with fish, although densities are still lower than in the Fillan Water where densities and growth rates have remained at the same high level.

These results confirm that the upper Cononish is not a productive environment and does not have as high a carrying capacity for salmon as the Fillan. But it is still not entirely clear why salmon were almost non-existent in the upper Cononish even up to the early part of the stocking experiment.

River Temperatures Below Hydro Dams

The flows of a number of Tay tributaries emanate from hydro dams. These hydro dams vary in height and amount of water stored behind them. The River Lyon and the Errochty Water are fed by two of the highest dams in the catchment and, in both cases, the flow is drawn from a low level in the reservoirs. In 1999 / 2000, the Board, supported by the Tay Foundation, conducted an investigation into water temperatures in these two rivers using loggers which measured the water temperature every hour.

The study showed that in spring and summer, in both rivers, the temperature of river water close to the dam had a relatively low daily variation and was suppressed. Moving downstream, temperatures gradually warmed up. In winter, however, the dam water was relatively warm.

It was then presumed these unnatural temperature regimes would have ecological impacts. This then resulted in further investigations on the River Lyon discussed here. {link}

River Shee Salmon Sanctuary

The River Shee, as the headwaters of the River Ericht is known, is a very important spawning area for spring salmon. Around the year 2000, concerns were expressed that increasing popularity of fishing in the area might put undue pressure on spring salmon spawning stocks.

In 2002, the salmon fishing rights on a two mile section of the River Shee, that had not been fished previously, came up for sale. fished previously. The Board managed to purchase those rights and now maintains this stretch as a sanctuary which is not be fished. The Tay Foundation contributed to that valuable initiative.

Later still, the Board was able to purchase all the salmon fishing rights in the tributaries upstream from the Crown Estate, extending the sanctuary to the limits of where salmon can access.

Hatchery

A new Tay salmon hatchery with a capacity of 2 million eggs (later expanded to 3 million) was built at Almondbank in 2003 and then operated by the Board. A number of organisations and individuals contributed generously to its costs. As well as the Board, these included the Tay Foundation, John Apthorp, the Tay Ghillies Association and SSE plc. The hatchery was operated until 2011 when the Board transferred its hatchery operation, including much of the existing equipment, to the larger neighbouring facility vacated by Marine Scotland. The now empty hatchery building was then let out.

In 2020, having no further interest in the site, Scottish Government transferred ownership of the entire site to the Tay Rivers Trust, including both buildings currently leased to the Board.

North Sea Drift Net Buyout

In 2003, the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (UK) negotiated a deal whereby 80% of the drift net licence holders in north east England surrendered their licences for compensation.

A significant contribution was made by DEFRA, but something like £2,000,000 matching funds had to be raised by the private sector. The Tay Foundation, the Board and Tay anglers made a generous contribution to this valuable initiative which allowed several thousand Tay salmon a much greater chance to return home.

Loch Tay Freshwater Fish Study

In the year 2000, the Tay Foundation supported a study into the fish community at the western end of Loch Tay.

This study was prompted because a new species, roach, was thought to have arrived in the Loch and that numbers of pike were thought to have increased, perhaps as a consequence.

The study confirmed that roach had become abundant and that they were a major component of the diet of pike in the area.

Please read the Loch Tay Freshwater Fish Study now.

Buyout of Estuary and River Netting Stations

Historically, salmon were netted in the estuary and lower reaches of the River Tay.

The locations of the various netting stations are shown on the diagram below. While most of the netting stations downstream of the mouth of the Earn were abandoned voluntarily, even in the 1980s, many of the stations upstream of the mouth of the Earn were still operating and exploiting a significant proportion of salmon entering the Tay, particularly in the summer.

From the late 1980s onwards, the Tay Foundation became involved in negotiations with the net fishing proprietors and the various Tay fisheries were removed in several tranches, culminating with the removal of the remaining Tay Salmon Fisheries Company nets after the 1996 season. The main Tay net fishing rights are now held under lease by the Tay Rivers Trust and are not operated for conservation purposes.

The River Earn Improvement Association succeeded in buying netting stations on the lower River Earn outright.

A small number of privately owned stations still exist but none are currently fished for salmon.