Sonar Fish Counter Trial – River Teith

Non-invasive fish counting technology is hard to come by and most current fish counting technology relies on fish being funnelled into a channel or area to be counted. This severely restricts where fish can be counted as it usually relies on there being a fish pass. Back in February 2018, the Trust with support from the Forth District Salmon Fishery Board worked with a company called Tritech to trial some new fish counting technology on the River Teith near Stirling.

Tritech have developed a sonar fish counter which fires a beam of sound through the water recording how long it takes to return to the sonar unit. It is then able to map and display a picture outlining what it is seeing under the water. This technology can be placed in pools or slow-moving sections of river to count anything which swims through the beam. As the unit is constantly recording, it can detect movement of fish and other aquatic wildlife moving in either an upstream or downstream direction.

When the Trust was trialling the technology, 6 fish were recorded swimming upstream over a 2 day period along with an otter. The below video created by Tritech shows some of the footage which was recorded during the trial. The estimated fish length in this footage was about 80cm long with the otter being 1.2m long. This technology is ground breaking as it can be deployed in a wider range of areas than having to rely on an obstruction such as a weir and fish pass.

Thank you to Tritech for allowing us to trial the technology and a thanks go out to Blair Drummond Estate for allowing the trial to take place on their land.

The below video shows some of the results we managed to capture. 

 

Forth District Salmon Fishery Board Event Poster – Callander Landscape Partnership

Forth Rivers Trust was asked to attend the Forth District Salmon Fishery Boards public event on the 17th May. Staff from the Trust showcased a range of posters highlighting the work currently going on in the Forth. Below are posters highlighting the work going on with regards to the Callander Landscape Partnership.

An Emerging Success Story on the Dollar Burn ?

The Dollar Burn, a tributary of the River Devon, looks at first glance like an excellent spawning and nursery burn for salmon and sea trout. With crystal clear water straight off the Ochill Hills and pristinely clean gravel substrate, it might be expected to support the same favourable levels of production as its near neighbours, the Menstrie and Alva Burns. However, since monitoring by the Trust commenced in 2011, the Dollar Burn has returned disappointing densities of juvenile salmon, and no salmon at all were caught there in 2014, 2015 and 2016. This compares poorly with the Menstrie Burn, where we have recorded densities of 90 salmon per 100m2 and 38 per 100m2 in the Alva Burn. Fluctuations in production between years is expected, but to find three years in a row where zero juvenile salmon were found suggests that something is going on!

It is likely that salmon production in the Dollar Burn was being hindered by two old weirs downstream (see photos), one near the mouth of the tributary (Dollar Burn Water Race), and one further downstream on the main stem of the river (Dollar Weir). It would seem that while some salmon were found upstream of these barriers, so few adults would get through that the available habitat was not at all well utilised for producing the next generation. To test if salmon were reaching as far up as the Water Race, we electrofished immediately downstream of it. The picture was better than it was up in the village, but densities were still very disappointing at less than 10 per 100m2.

In the Autumn of 2015, two projects to renovate and improve fish passage on these structures were completed. The Dollar Burn Water Race was refurbished by the Ochils Landscape Partnership, while Dollar Weir was improved by the Trust using funding gratefully received from Scottish Water, Clackmannanshire and Stirling Environment Trust and the Devon Angling Association. The results of the works certainly looked very smart (see photos), but would they work as we hoped, and improve salmon production in the Burn?

We monitored in summer 2016, one season after the improvement works, expecting to find some young of the year salmon fry in the Burn, but the picture was unfortunately very similar to that before the works. Then, in the winter of 2016 Trust staff and members of the angling club began to report seeing a large number of redds (salmon nests) in the main stem of the River Devon upstream of Dollar Weir. This gave us hope that spawning activity was high, and when we electrofished in summer 2017, we found the highest densities of salmon yet seen in the Dollar Burn. Just below the Water Race, we recorded 64 salmon per 100m2.
Its early days, but we are hoping this is the start of an improving trend in the Dollar Burn rather than a blip. The same improvement is yet to be observed upstream of the Water Race, but we are cautiously optimistic that if more adults are accessing the Dollar Burn, some may start to make it up into the village to spawn there. In the meantime, we will keep monitoring!

Forth District Salmon Fishery Board Event Posters – RiverLife: Almond & Avon

Forth Rivers Trust was asked to attend the Forth District Salmon Fishery Boards public event on the 17th May. Staff from the Trust showcased a range of posters highlighting the work currently going on in the Forth. Below are posters highlighting the work going on with regards to the RiverLife: Almond & Avon project.

Forth District Salmon Fishery Board Event Posters – Allan Water Improvement Project

Forth Rivers Trust was asked to attend the Forth District Salmon Fishery Boards public event on the 17th May. Staff from the Trust showcased a range of posters highlighting the work currently going on in the Forth. Below are posters highlighting the work going on with regards to the Allan Water Improvement Project.

Forth District Salmon Fishery Board Event – Science Posters

On the 17th May the Forth Rivers Trust was asked to attend the Forth District Salmon Fishery Board’s public meeting to showcase the work which the Trust carried out in the Forth. The below posters are some from the science team.

 

The River Forth Fisheries Trust is changing

A new chapter in the Trust’s life opens as we change our name to the Forth Rivers Trust and update our logo.

Over the past few months many of the staff at the Trust have been consulting with project partners, stakeholders and members of the public to determine if people understood what the Trust does. It became clear that some were confused by the name.

It was decided that to continue to develop the Trust and make sure it is an organisation which can tackle the issues rivers face in the Forth, a name change, and upgrade of the logo was needed to properly engage with the wide audiences we work with. Our core objectives have been modernised as well to reflect the diverse range of projects we lead on. Don’t worry though, the Forth Rivers Trust will still carry out the same role as the River Forth Fisheries Trust with all of the previous core objectives being incorporated in our new ones. Our vision statement and core objectives for the Forth Rivers Trust can be seen below:

Forth Rivers Trust Vision Statement
The water, land and freshwater habitats in the Forth area are under increasing pressure. The Forth Rivers Trusts works in collaboration with others to conserve, maintain and improve the quality of these environments bringing benefits to both people and wildlife. To achieve this aim the FRT will:

  1. Engage with others and make connections which supports the physical improvement and awareness of the freshwater environment (locally, regionally and nationally);
  2. Provide an impartial ecosystem science based approach to river catchment management;
  3. Gather, maintain and communicate relevant information, providing advice, guidance and support on relevant ecological and conservation matters;
  4. Providing training and learning programmes which supports the Trust and others to undertake improvements to aligned with the Trust’s delivery plans; and
  5. Deliver scientifically robust, deliverable and sustainable solutions to mitigate the many issues faced by the rivers draining into the Forth Estuary.

Core objectives

Rivers

  • Provide a voice for rivers at a national, regional and local scale whilst promoting sustainable catchment management to all users of rivers in the Forth System.

Wildlife

  • Promote and protect all wildlife which use rivers to thrive.

Communities

  • Engage communities with all aspects of rivers and their wildlife through a range of activities and learning opportunities to promote the sustainable use of rivers.

Science

  • Provide robust scientific evidence relating to rivers and the wildlife they hold to inform policy, target restoration projects and engage communities.

Over the next few months, Trust staff will be working hard to make the change over as smooth as possible. You may start to notice a few changes as we progress such as a new website, changed social media and the roll out of our new logo. We will keep everyone updated of our progress as things advance.

If you have any questions about the new changes please do get in touch by either emailing us on trust@fishforth.co.uk or calling the office on 0131 445 1527.

In the mean time, here is our new logo

Forth District Salmon Fishery Board Public Event 17th May 3pm – 8pm

The Forth District Salmon Fishery Board will be holding its annual public event on the 17th May between 3pm and 8pm at Cambusmore Business Units, Keltie Bridge, FK17 8LQ.

The River Forth Fisheries Trust will be supporting the Board with this event, showcasing the projects and work the Trust carries out in the Forth.

Previously, the Board has held a formal meeting but this year we will be holding a drop-in session where members of the public can drop by and view a range of stalls from the Board, River Forth Fisheries Trust and other organisations to find out what work is being carried out in the Forth. Board and Trust staff will be on hand to answer questions about the Forth System and the work being undertaken.

Please see below for further information on the event, including a map of the event location.

All welcome.

George Mackintosh becomes River Restoration Centre River Champion

OUR RIVERS FINALLY HAVE A CHAMPION THEY DESERVE WITH AN AWARD WINNING VOLUNTEER
George Mackintosh has spent years helping to repair the river Avon to support wildlife and make the river a better outdoor place for all to visit.

SCOTLAND, APRIL 25th, 2018 – Rivers in the Forth finally have a champion they deserve with an award-winning volunteer called George Macintosh from the Slamannan Angling Protective Association. George has successfully been announced as a UK River Champion because of his hard work and effort in helping the river Avon near Slamannan, Falkirk. George has spent years volunteering with the River Forth Fisheries Trust and local landowners to carry out four phases of river restoration, bringing in hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of funding to carry out these works. In addition to the restoration work, George has supported the Trust deliver its learning programme “Fish in The Classroom” to around 25 schools over the past 5 years helping in the region of 750 kids learn about rivers, trout and why they are so important for everyone and the environment.

George is currently working alongside the Trust to develop further works in the Upper Avon, which will improve the river through the RiverLife: Almond & Avon project. Through this project, the Trust, and George, at Slamannan Angling & protective Association (SAPA) will be working with landowners to help stop bank erosion, improve in stream habitat and boost river edge habitat for wildlife. There will be plenty of opportunity for George, members of SAPA and other volunteers to get involved with during the RiverLife project, which is happening with funding from Heritage Lottery Fund. George is a key driver for these works and without his enthusiasm and ambition in championing the river Avon a lot of this work would not be been completed.

The UK River Champion award is a prestigious accolade which seeks to recognises and celebrates the outstanding efforts of individuals contributing to improving rivers for wildlife and people outside of their day-to-day roles. The UK River Champion award is managed by the River Restoration Centre, a UK organisation providing advice and information on river restoration and catchment management.

George Macintosh, River Champion said: – “I am thrilled to have been nominated by friends at the River Forth Fisheries Trust for the River Champion awards and even more thrilled to have been chosen as a river champion by the River Restoration Centre. The river Avon near Falkirk is my local river which I have fished since I was a boy and helping it in any way I can provides me great joy and satisfaction that I can provide for it just as it has provided for me over the years.”
Alison Baker, Trust Manager at River Forth Fisheries Trust said: – “It was a great pleasure to nominate George for the River Champions award. Volunteers like George are the true heroes of our rivers in the Forth area. The Trust has had the pleasure of working with George for a number of years and at every step of the way we have enjoyed his enthusiasm for action on the ground. George has helped the Trust on several projects throughout the Forth, not just on the River Avon and his support is greatly appreciated. This is just one of many reasons we felt the need to show our appreciation of his hard work and effort by nominating him for the River Champion award.”

Martin Janes, Managing Director at the River Restoration Centre: – “The River Restoration Centre commends the many years of effort that George has put into improving the River Avon. A local Slamannan fisherman, his drive to recognise problems, engage the local community and find out what should be done has successfully found funding and delivered four projects along the river. He is fully deserving of a ‘River Champion’ award and we hope his excellent work continues into the future and inspires the younger generations with whom he is working in the local schools.”

The RiverLife project is in its second year and will run until July 2020, we have 2+ years ahead of action packed volunteer days, community lead action for our rivers, education days with Fish in the Class, and seeing the benefits to our river systems. You can follow the projects development and get involved at www. river-life.org.uk, follow us on twitter at @myRiverLife and on facebook through the River Forth Fisheries Trust’s page.

About RiverLife: Almond & Avon Project
Is an ambitious programme of works undertaking a range of catchment wide improvements along the rivers Almond and Avon. By engaging with communities and restoring the natural heritage of the Almond and Avon, the project will reconnect wildlife and communities with their local rivers.