Keeping the water environment healthy requires tackling a broad suite of problems. Here is where we stand on a majority of issues not directly covered by our current campaigns. Many we are addressing in the background through partnership working.
Mixed Stock Netting
A key part of achieving healthy wild salmon and sea trout stocks is stopping indiscriminate netting of fish along the coast. Because of us, complete closure of these nets has occurred throughout Scotland. Now we can be certain that individuals from the most sensitive river populations are not being fished and are left to breed.
Forestry can be beneficial to river catchments by effectively retaining water to even out river flows and producing shade that can control water temperatures – increasingly important as climate change bites. However, non-native conifer plantations can impact upland spawning and nursery habitat by leaching acid and toxic chemicals into the water. We are using legal challenges to address these issues.
Healthy rivers need water. Over-abstraction is destructive to fish and water insects and allows pollutants to be more damaging by cutting down their dilution. We are championing abstraction reform that puts the needs of aquatic ecology first and fighting for all unsustainable abstraction to be stopped.
Predation is a natural process within water environments but we believe that excessive predation is more a symptom of other bottlenecks. In-stream barriers such as weirs or hydro schemes hold up downstream migrating juvenile fish making them easy prey, while poor in-river habitat denies fish natural cover, again making them vulnerable. Low flows due to abstraction hold up adult migration and make them targets for mammals and birds. We work to address the causes of unnaturally high predation rather than the predators themselves.
Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) damage British plants, animals and ecosystems by competing for habitat and food, spreading disease and by direct predation. As a water user, please do your bit to help stop the spread of invasive plants and animals in British waters.
Fish passage is vital for salmon, trout and sea trout. Many rivers are failing environmental standards because of too many barriers to fish migration. Barriers prevent access to upstream spawning and juvenile habitat. They also impact young fish migrating downstream, forcing them to shoal at obstructions and increasing their vulnerability to predation. We continue to press for a new Fish Passage Order from the Government, first promised over a decade ago!
Flooding & Dredging
The need to dredge a river merely treats a symptom of poor, uncoordinated management, not the primary cause. We champion flood risk management that uses natural processes at the catchment scale to slow water down, reduce flooding and limit the input of damaging pollutants from the land.
Catch & Release
We believe that Catch & Release is a highly effective conservation tool for protecting all wild fish. Although now widely practised by anglers, catch & release should be further encouraged, particularly on those rivers where stocks have been identified as being at risk.
Beavers have the potential to bring benefits to the ecology of our watercourses. However, this must be balanced against potential disruption to fish migration. We base our policies on the best available science, which we are co-funding, and on a case-by-case basis for beaver reintroduction.
Hydropower can play a part in energy generation, provided that steps are taken to ensure schemes cause no adverse effects to our aquatic ecosystems and particularly fish movement. We work with planners and decision makers to voice the environmental arguments and, importantly, that projects have effective monitoring to ensure minimal environmental damage.
Shale gas exploration can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but there are risks. The Government must ensure the regulatory framework applied to the industry is fit for purpose and provides sufficient protection to the natural environment.