Disappointment as no government cash for Deeside salmon counter

The River Dee won’t get Scottish Government cash for a wild salmon counter, despite a 40% plunge in numbers over the past four decades.
Aberdeenshire West MSP Mr BurnettAberdeenshire West MSP Mr Burnett
Aberdeenshire West MSP Mr Burnett

Minister Mairi Gougeon confirmed her government “has no plans” to fund an indicator across 25 metres of the lower river.

This is despite a commitment to “construct an extended fish counter network to improve salmon population estimates” in last year’s wild salmon strategy.

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Counters have been partially funded by the Marine Directorate of the Scottish Government on the Laxford, Deveron and Ayr – the first two in partnership with the Atlantic Salmon Trust. These rivers are also Special Areas of Conservation as is the Dee.

But in an answer to the area’s MSP Alexander Burnett, Ms Gougeon said “the width of the lower Dee means that the installation of a fish counter to assess the size of the salmon stock is not feasible.”

The narrowest stretch of the lower Dee is considered within operational limits of most modern counters.

Aberdeenshire West MSP Mr Burnett said: “The start of the season on Deeside is a fantastic time for the local economy, tourism and hospitality. But experts have warned that salmon season will become a thing of the past if nothing is done to protect it.

“There are many reasons for the decline of wild Atlantic salmon stocks, including predation at sea, non-native species, rising river temperatures and much more.

“But at the moment there is an incomplete picture because of Scotland's patchy network of fish counters, with some using technology dating back to the 1950s.

“There’s an opportunity here for the Scottish Government to make targeted interventions, informed by data. This is something that was promised by the Wild Salmon Strategy.

"So the Minister’s response to hopes for a new counter in the lower Dee is very disappointing.”