National Salmon Monitoring Survey 2018

This summer the trust was involved with the national electrofishing survey. This program was organised by Marine Scotland to produce a detailed picture of the salmon population across the country. The task of surveying was entrusted to local bodies connected to catchment areas in most cases this would be fishery trusts. The Forth Rivers Trust was commissioned to survey across the Forth catchment.

Electrofishing is an effective technique for quantifying fish populations in river systems. It is a particularly good method for detecting juvenile fish, the charge delivered through the water stuns and draws the fish out from hiding. The smaller fish, due to their size, receive a minimal charge compared to larger fish and recovery is quick. All the trust’s science staff are highly trained in the use of electrofishing equipment and in the capture and monitoring of young fish. In addition to the trust’s standard practice, the national survey required further information. The trust takes scales when there is an apparent cross over in age classes of salmon. The national survey requested that all salmon and trout parr had scale samples taken. Added to this was genetic sampling in the form of fin clips from all salmon parr. Both the scale and genetic sample records were linked to each individual fish, a significant and time-consuming detail. This additional sample data was for age classification and genetic sampling to determine local age structure and genetic diversity. It would also serve as a legacy of sample data taken across the country using standardised techniques. Along with the fish data, the survey took information on the sampling site: flow types and vegetation, site dimensions and bank structure were also recorded. Count data was taken for all species of fish captured during the survey. In the Forth area along with salmon (Salmo salar) and trout (Salmo trutta), stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), stoneloach (Barbatula barbatula), minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus), bullhead (Cottus gobio), European eel (Anguilla Anguilla) and lamprey spp. were all noted during the survey.

The trust was issued with the GPS coordinates for the random survey sites. Many of these sites were new and interesting areas where the trust had not electrofished before. One drawback of this approach was visiting sites the trust was unfamiliar with, which, on occasion turned out to be unviable for surveying. This could be too deep, too wide or too shallow. Several land owners prevented access, there was a site with a natural fish barrier and in one site an unpredictable bull prevented a survey from taking place. If sites could not be surveyed, then a new survey site was requested from Marine Scotland. The trust had 30 sites to survey, ten of these would be surveyed annually. To complete the task of obtaining data from 30 sites the team had to visit 50+ sites in total. This underlines the necessity to recce sites prior to surveying, this undoubtedly increases the time to complete the national survey. Reviewing the trusts data, there is an indication of a severe lack of salmon. Although 2018 random sites included many sites known to be poor for salmon recruitment. On reflection 2018’s weather certainly had an impact on all the trust’s electrofishing commitments and hopefully 2019 will be a better year for surveying and not fraught with droughts during the Summer and high water in Autumn.

Invasive Species control in the Forth 2018

The fight against invasive non-native species along rivers in the Forth continued during 2018 with a number of community led actions taking place. The Trust also led on a number of work days to tackle INNS with the support of contractors and volunteers.

On the River Carron, funding was provided by EB Scotland who distribute the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund to get support from contractors to continue Japanese knotweed control along the Bonny water and river Carron. This was also supported by Falkirk Council.

Although the Carron has been treated for a number of years, there is still Japanese knotweed stands along the river corridor which are being treated. It is however important to note that the reduction in number of, and size of stands has reduced which is encouraging but some stands are being more persistent than others. We have found a few of the larger stands have returned year on year with highly stunted growth which makes it difficult to treat.

In other parts of the Forth, volunteers done a fantastic job tackling giant hogweed along the Allan Water during April and May. The Trust was able to support the communities of Dunblane and Bridge of Allan with the supply of chemical and equipment to continue control along the water course.

Elsewhere, the Trust carried out control of Japanese knotweed in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park along the Teith and Forth systems. This was supported by volunteers and many riparian landowners.

Finally, in the Almond & Avon catchment INNS were controlled as part of the RiverLife: Almond & Avon project with our dedicated volunteers from the local angling clubs and community members. Control was able to take place along the full length of the River Avon and Almond thanks to this support and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A massive thank you to EB Scotland, Falkirk Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, SEPA, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, riparian landowners and all of the volunteers right across the Forth who supported INNS control during 2018.

We are hiring – Trust Assistant x2

The Forth Rivers Trust is hiring. 

The Forth Rivers Trust is looking for two enthusiastic Trust assistants to work with the team to undertake various roles to deliver the Trust’s aims and objectives.
The Trust works with landowners, community groups, NGOs, and other stakeholders groups across the Forth District to advance environmental protection and improvement by conserving and enhancing all species of freshwater fish and their environments. The organisation undertakes these activities primarily, but not limited to, the inland and
coastal waters which enter the Forth Estuary and Firth of Forth.
These rivers include: Biel Water, Tyne, Esks, Water of Leith, Almond, Avon, Carron, Forth, Teith, Bannockburn, Allan Water, Devon, Black Devon and Leven.

Job Description:
The successful candidate would be line managed by the Trust’s Operations & Development Manager who is responsible to the Trust’s Director.
The Trust operates in a variety of fields including project work, science-based work, consultancy, day to day operations and also works closely with the Forth District Salmon Fishery Board. The successful candidate will support staff delivering the Trust’s work within this range of fields.
River Restoration and Engagement
• Invasive Non-Native Species control
• Riparian and habitat improvement projects
• In-stream river restoration (e.g. bank protection etc)
• Assisting with Trust educational projects such as Fish in the Classroom
Science
• Supporting Trust biologists with annual Electrofishing surveys
• Assisting with the collection of environmental data gathered by the Trust (invertebrate monitoring, temperature monitoring, mammal surveys)
Consultancy
• Assisting with site assessment projects
• Some weekend and distance working across various locations in Scotland may be required
Operations and General Admin.
• Assisting Trust staff with media engagement (social media, websites, newsletters)
• Assisting with mapping, gathering project specific information
• Supporting Trust staff with funding applications, including gathering evidence for applications
• Assisting the Senior Biologist with stock and upkeep of Trust equipment and regular safety checks
• Assistance with general admin. tasks such as booking venues, updating calendars, purchasing, etc.
• General assistance and upkeep of Trust vehicles
• Assisting with engaging communities, landowners and delivering events
Assisting with the day to day running of the office, including answering telephones, cleaning, maintenance, etc.
Any other activities required by Trust management

If you would like to apply for this role please send a cover letter and CV to recruit@forthriverstrust.org .

Deadline for applications is 19th October with interviews on the 2nd November. 

Job description can be found here- Trust Assistant – Job Description

Trossachs Water Vole Project turns 10

This summer sees the tenth anniversary of one of Scotland’s most successful conservation projects – The Trossachs Water Vole Project.

Having gone extinct in the Trossachs sometime in the 1990s through loss of habitat, watercourse pollution and the spread of the non-native American mink, water voles have seen a resurgence across the area thanks to the conservation project – the first of its kind in Scotland.

Kick started after a chance conversation between a Forestry Enterprise Scotland (FES) employee and a wildlife vet, the reintroduction programme coincided with an FES drive to improve existing wetlands and waterways in Loch Ard Forest.

Project officer, Stephen Willis, said;

“FES’s work at that time had created the sort of habitat that was ideal for water voles but there were none around.

“However, an industrial development on the edge of Glasgow threatened to destroy a known water vole colony, so it was decided that those animals would be caught and translocated to the Trossachs.”

The translocation, which included a period of captive breeding in Devon carried out by the Derek Gow Consultancy and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, resulted in three releases of animals (2008, 2009 and 2010) that saw over 1,000 water voles reintroduced at sites across the area.

Mink control in advance of the reintroduction helped the water voles establish themselves and now they are thriving at all the release sites and well beyond. As the water vole population has expanded so too has the effort to control mink.

Stephen added;

“Today water voles can be found from upland settings high above Loch Lomond to the lowlands of the River Forth, almost within sight of Stirling Castle.

“We know the current range thanks to the efforts of a team of trained and experienced volunteers from Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, which carries out surveys from May to September. 

“Our project, which is ongoing, has been so successful that water voles from the Trossachs have even been trapped and translocated to Northumberland to help boost the numbers being reintroduced in Kielder as part of the ‘Restoring Ratty’ project.

“That is a resounding accolade for our project.”

Alison Baker, Director of the Forth Rivers Trust said;

“It’s been a pleasure working with the other partners to conserve this ever-expanding population of water voles in the Trossachs.

“It is known that water voles existed on a number of rivers throughout the Forth District but due to a decline of habitat and the impact of American mink this has meant the population has declined. It is important to continue to protect and restore habitat for water voles and keep up the fight against the invasive non-native predator, American mink as it could result in the population declining again and potentially being wiped out.”

Linda Winskill, Wild Park Officer at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authoritysaid;

“This has been a hugely successful conservation project and is a great example of partnership working.  It is fantastic to see water voles in areas of the National Park where they have not been recorded for many years.  People may now be lucky enough to see these elusive mammals, or hear the distinctive ‘plop’ as they jump into the water! 

“National Park volunteers have been essential in monitoring the water voles’ distribution, and have contributed hundreds of hours carrying out surveys across the lifetime of the project.”

David McCulloch, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park volunteer, added;

“I started volunteering for the project five years ago and it’s great to know our survey results help to map the spread of water voles in the National Park.”

The Trossachs Water Vole Project is a partnership of Forestry Commission Scotland, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, and Forth Rivers Trust.

RiverLife: Almond & Avon survey

RiverLife: Almond & Avon is looking for peoples views and perceptions of both the River Almond & Avon which take in most of West Lothian and parts of Edinburgh and Falkirk. If you live or visit either of these catchments we would love to hear how you use the rivers but also perceive them. You can help us with this by filling out our survey which can be found by following the link below.

https://www.research.net/r/RiverLife-Community-Survey

Forth Rivers Trust – Change of Email

Please note, the Forth Rivers Trust is changing its email addresses. Previously all of the Trust’s email addresses ended in @fishforth.co.uk but going forward all email addresses will end in @forthriverstrust.org .

If you try contacting the trust or any of its staff please continue to use the first half of the email followed by @forthriverstrust.org . For example trust@forthriverstrust.org

From The Forth Rivers Trust Team

Japanese Knotweed Contracts – River Carron

The Forth Rivers Trust have been successful in gaining funding through the Landfill Communities Fund via Falkirk Environment Trust and EB Scotland to undertake Japanese Knotweed Control in the River Carron Catchment. We have a number of sections which can be tendered for by contractors. 

If you would like to tender for any of the below works please submit all bids by 12th July 3pm. All bids should be submitted via email to tenders@fishforth.co.uk. For further information please call Jonathan Louis on 0131 445 1527 or email tenders@fishforth.co.uk . 

Bonny Water

A803 to Carron

Invitation to tender A803 to Carron

SPECIFICATION OF SERVICES REQUIRED A803 to Carron

A803 – Carron map

Form of Tender Bonnywater A803 to Carron

M80 to A803 

Invitation to tender M80 to A803

SPECIFICATION OF SERVICES REQUIRED M80 to A803

Form of Tender Bonnywater M80 to A803

M80 – A803 map

River Carron

Fankerton to Checkbar Roundabout

Invitation to tender Fankerton to Checkbar

SPECIFICATION OF SERVICES REQUIRED Fankerton to Checkbar

Fankerton to Checkbar map

Form of Tender Fankerton to Checkbar

Checkbar to Dorrator Bridge

Invitation to tender Checkbar to Dorrator Bridge

SPECIFICATION OF SERVICES REQUIRED Checkbar to Dorrator Bridge

Ceckbar to Dorrator Bridge map

Form of Tender Checkbar to Dorrator Bridge

Dorrator Bridge to B902

Invitation to tender Dorrator Bridge to B902

SPECIFICATION OF SERVICES REQUIRED Dorrator Bridge to B902

Dorrator Bridge – B902 map

Form of Tender Dorrator Bridge to B902

B902 to M9

Form of Tender B902 to M9

Invitation to tender B902 to M9

SPECIFICATION OF SERVICES REQUIRED B902 to M9

b902 to m9 Map

The Trust Turns 10 years Old

Today marks a very special day for the Trust as it turns 10 years old. On the 24th June 2008 the Trust was created with the main aim of acting as a vessel to improve rivers in the Forth for the benefit of wildlife and communities. The organisation has changed and adapted over the years to fulfil that role working with countless community groups, volunteers, landowners and other stakeholders to deliver a wide ranging programme of works throughout the Forth showing that working in partnership works and needs to continue for the benefit of the wildlife and communities.

The Trust would like to thank everyone who has helped us over the past 10 years deliver and d develop projects in the Forth and here’s to another 10.

 

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.