Presentation on theme: "The Lochy Smolt Programme"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Lochy Smolt Programme SIZE AND SCALERAFTS CONFERENCE 3 YEARS AGOMY JOBSJon GibbRestoration Manager, River Lochy AssociationClerk, Lochaber District Salmon Fishery Board.
2 Lochaber DSFB region LOCATION FAIR CHUNK OF THE WEST COAST Major catchments and salmon and sea trout fisheriesRiver Lochy and tributaries (Lochs Lochy and Arkaig, River Roy)River and Loch ShielRiver Ailort and Loch EiltRiver and Loch MorarRivers Aline, Coe, Leven, Moidart, Cona, Scaddle, Strontian, etc.Netting stations at Cuil Bay (Loch Linnhe) and Fascadale (Ardnamurchan)LOCATIONFAIR CHUNK OF THE WEST COAST3 OR 4 LARGE SYSTEMS AND MANY SMALL SPATE RIVERS
3 LOCHY IS LARGEST IN REGION ENTIRELY BIASED EASILY THE NICEST FLY FISHING IN SCOTLAND- JAC QUOTE‘The Lochy is the Queen of Scottish Salmon Rivers’ (John Ashley-Cooper)
4 9 miles of prime fly fishing for salmon on 38 named pools 3 FTE jobs and 5 PTE jobs supported200 local anglers fish the river and 300 visitorsFishing brings in up to £500,000 pa to local economyMOST PRODUCTIVE ON WEST COASTUNLIKE MANY WESTERN RIVERS – DURATION OF SEASON, MSW SALMON INC SPRING RUNREAD LIST
5 ROD CATCH TELLS A DRAMATIC STORY – BUAYANT, COLLAPSE AND PARTIAL RECOVERY REG IN STARING INTO THE ABYSSSINCE THEN A PARTIAL RECOVERY AIDED PARTICUALR BY 2 V STRONG GRILSE YEARS. BUT LAST 3 YEARS GRILSE DECLINE OVER MSW SALMON
6 EAST COAST VERSUS WEST COAST ROD CATCH WELL DOCUMENTED THE RELATIVE DECLINE ON WEST COAST OVER EASTPERHAPS SOME OBVIOUS AND WELL PUBLICISED REASONS FOR THIS BUT I DO NOT BELIEVE THE REASONS ARE ENTIRELY KNOWNdata – River and Fisheries Trusts Scotland
7 LOCALISED IMPACTS ON LOCHY SALMON RIVERIncrease in PREDATORS – brown trout/sea trout dynamics- over-protected seals and fish-eating birdsIncrease in sudden WINTER FLOODS – loss of juvenile and spawning habitatIncrease in FRESHWATER TEMPERATURES – change in resident/migratory fish- disruption to migratory timingIncrease in SPRING DROUGHTS – disruption to smolt migration/ increased predationHYDRO IMPACTS – sudden spate events/disruption to ease and timing of migrationESTUARYLACK OF FEEDING for migrating smolts due to overfishing and prey species habitat degradationIncrease in PREDATORS – expansion of common seals and some predator species (eg. cod)Local FISH FARMS escapes/interbreedingdisease transferinteruption of salmons scenting/homing abilityinfestation of smolts by SEA LICEWE ALL KNOW ABOUT THE THREATS FACING SALMON IN THE HIGH SEAS – THE SALSEA PROJECT HAS BEGUN TO LOOK AT THESEHOWEVER THERE ARE PLENTYRY LOCAL IMPSCTS FACING LOCHY SALMON BEFORE THEY EVEN GET OUT OF THE RIVER AND ESTUARYWE COULD SPEND ALL DAYS ON THESE SO I WILL NOT GO INTO EACH ONE AT THE MOMENT
8 Our focus has been particularly on one outstanding and over-riding threat – sea lice infestation of outward migrating smoltIs this a major impact we can do something about?
9 River Lochy There is good reason why we take this focus on sea lice. Fish farms in Loch Linnhe and the Sound of Mull.River LochyThere is good reason why we take this focus on sea lice.Consider the 17 fish farms which a smolt leaving the Lochy can pass – unlike other West Coast rivers which have 1 or 2 to negotiate.The Lochy lies at the end of the longest and thinnest fjord in Scotland – Loch Linnhe – which faces the prevailing wind. Lice are literally blown up towards the river mouth and congregate at the top.Prevailing wind
10 This is SEA TROUT at river mouth in spring. Lice numbers on post-smolt sea trout at mouth of River LochyThese results suggest that up to 50% of wild smolts may be facing a lethal threat in the estuary at least every other year during their seaward migrationA decade of superb monitoring work by the LFT demonstrates the problem with some detailThis is SEA TROUT at river mouth in spring.Previous work (listed here) has suggested a lethal level of sea lice per salmon smolt. READ REDdata – Lochaber Fisheries Trust
11 Lice numbers at Kinlocheil – 6 miles from the mouth of River Lochy IN PASSING IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE WHAT THE RESULTS LOOKS LIKE IN A LOCATION JUST A FEW MILES AWAY WHERE THE FISH FARM WAS RELOCATED.local fish farm relocated and closeddata – Lochaber Fisheries Trust
12 Can we remove this bottleneck to smolt survival and relocate the 17 fish farms in LochLinnhe and the Sound of Mull?Different companies involved operating farms on different production cyclesSome of the largest production units in the whole of Scotland are found in the Linnhe/Sound of Mull areaThe aquaculture industry supports many hundreds of jobs in farming and processing in the Fort William area aloneNew markets are being developed globally eg. ChinaThe licensing system makes it hard for the industry to identify new sites and relocate existing sitesThe industry forms a key building block for rural self-sufficiency in the Scottish Government’s plans for an independent Scotland.CLICK AND READ.
13 SO IF WE PUT OUR SITUATION INTO A STANDARD STOCKING FLOWCHART ASSESS STATE OF SALMON STOCK – MUCOMIR COUNTER, ONLY COUNTER, CURRENTLY AT LEAST 50% BELOW MIN SPAWNING TARGETRUN THROUGH FLOW CHART
14 Which life stage to stock? FED FRY – 1g, 2cm long2-3 years in the riverDifficult to mark and monitor successUp to 500,000pa between 2001 and 2009SMOLT – 45g, 12cm long1 - 5 weeks in the riverFully identifiable by adipose fin clipCan protect with SLICEWill take acoustic and PIT tagsTrial smolt releases started in 2009WE LOOKED AT VARIOUS STOCKING STATEGIES.STARTED WITH FED FRY – READIN 2009 WE MOVED TOWARDS SMOLTS
15 Set up smolt stocking project in partnership with MH, with assistance from a wide range of other aquaculture partners.Bring in wild broodfish every year, rear eggs up to fed fry in hatchery, then pass them to MH in Loch Arkaig at the top of the Lochy system.Smolts then brought back to the hatchery in early spring for SLICE treating then released to coincide with the first full moon in May when we have shown smolts to migrate
16 Scientific advice on best practice for smolt stocking trial. The number of brood fish should be as high as is practicable without endangering the wild spawning population.Adult brood fish should be replaced each yearStripping and fertilisation should be carried out to maximise the diversity of the offspring and equalise the contributions of each adult to the eggs.Broodstock should preferably be sourced late in the year close to spawning areas and their offspring released into the same river.Lochaber Fisheries Trust 2009.We do accept that as our indigenous smolts are raised in a hatchery environment they are ecologically different to their wild counterparts. Any future successes will have to be assessed against the trade off and risk to the long-term genetic fitness of the overall stock.BEFORE STARTING OUT WE SOUGHT ADVISE TO MINIMISE ANY POTENTIAL GENETIC RISKS FROM THE LOCAL FISHERY TRUSTREAD THOUGH
17 River Lochy reared smolt returns up to 2013 RELEASE YEAR200920102011201220132014Released in Lochy private beats18,00038,50030,000(50,000 target)1SW return caught (1yr later)2120342SW Return caught (2yrs later)1522DUE BACK 2014Total rod caught364234 grilse onlyEstimated no of extra spawning fish360420340Estimated extra egg deposition900,0001,050,000600,000Marine survival rate2%2.30%0.90%% increase in 5 yr av rod catch9.70%11%14%COMPLETEDRESULTS AWAITEDUNMONITORED RELEASES ONLYNOW SOME RESULTS. AS YOU CAN SEE RELEASES ARE SMALL. JUST A TRIAL PROJECT. SADLY 2011 ALL FISH WERE UNMARKED DUE TO A SABOTAGE EVENT. SO ONLY 2.5 YEARS OF RESULTS.WE ALSO MAKE SOME ASSUMPTIONS IN THESE FIGURES. MAINLY THAT THE ROD EXPOITATION RATE IS 10%. I WILL EXPLAIN IN A MINUTE WHY WE USE THIS INDUSTRY ACCEPTED FIGUREREAD THROUGH YEARS HALF YEAR BUT ON TARGET MAYBE FOR 2013……….SO FAR IN 2.5 YEARS WE HAVE PRODUCED 100 EXTRA ROD CAUGHT SALMON AND PERHAPS 1000 EXTRA SPAWNING FISHRiver Lochy reared smolt returns up to 2013
18 FLOY TAGGING marked recapture experiment to investigate rod exploitation rates wild fish tagged and released in both 2012 and 2013 throughout the season only resulted in one fish being re-caught in each year. Therefore accepted 10% rod exploitation rate used in calculations.RETURNS SUMMARYApprox 2% of smolts back to river as adults and 0.2% back to rodsEarly indications for current conditions are that every 18,000 smolts released boosts rod catch by 10% and adds I million extra eggs to system.Largest fish landed 20lbs hen salmon and the smallest 3lbs cock grilseAn even split of grilse and salmon in spite of a weighting towards the use of MSW salmon broodstockFish caught from May onwards but a weighting towards the back end of the season (a disadvantage).Very few fish caught above the top release point, catches evenly distributed through riverAngler education on checking for fin clips a major hurdle in the projectWE USE 10% ROD EXPOITATION BECAUSE UNLIKE OTHER RIVERS THAT HAVE SEEN MUCH LARGER RATES, LOCHY IS A MOTORWAY, THE BOTTOM 10 MILES OF A MASSIVE AND ACCESSIBLE SYSTEM, NOT A DEAD END AT THE TOP OF A SYSTEM.READ THROUGH
19 Fin clipped returns allows an easing of 100% catch and release THE LOCHY HAS BEEN CATCH AND RELEASE FOR MANY YEARS. IT IS RATHER NICE TO SEE THIS BEING ABLE TO BE RELAXED A BIT. RENEWED LOCAL INTEREST IN FISHING.
20 THE PROGRAMME IS HEAVILY SUBSIDISED BY OUR INDUSTRY SPONSORS Cost analysis calculations based on 38,000 smolts released at 2% return rate and 0.2% rod exploitationEach Lochy rod caught salmon has an approximate ‘rental ‘value of £300Each Lochy rod caught salmon has an approximate capital value of £6000THE PROGRAMME IS HEAVILY SUBSIDISED BY OUR INDUSTRY SPONSORSEach smolt costs the River Lochy Association around 24p to produce (without subsidy £2)Each extra returning spawning adult costs the RLA £12 to produce (without subsidy £100)Each extra ova in river costs approximately £4.80 to produce (without subsidy £40)Each extra rod caught salmon costs £120 to produce (without subsidy £1000)!!!WHILE WE MAY HAVE SHOWN THAT WE ARE ADDING EXTRA FISH TO THE RODS AND THE REDDS – DOES SUCH A PROJECT MAKE FINANCIAL SENSE?READ THOUGH
21 Intensive fish farming and inshore fishing started HAVE WE ACTUALLY MADE ANY TRUE IMPACT ON THE LOCHY ROD CATCHEXPALIN THREE ZONESAS YOU CAN SEE THE RESULTS ARE FAIRLY UNINSPIRING. 10% OF ROD CATCH ON COURSE TO BE AROUND 20% NEXT YEAR.
22 Some key questionsWould we be operating a smolt programme if we thought there was a realisticchance of removing salmon farms from the path of migrating smolts?NOWould a smolt programme be a cost effective tool were it not for the heavyfinancial/in kind assistance from Marine Harvest and our other partners?Has the smolt programme been effective in mitigating against the effects of sea lice?AS YET, NOT PROVENDo we feel that the benefits of operating the smolt programme outweigh the risks?CURRENTLY, YESDo we feel that we can improve on the current programme?YES, PARTICULARLY WITH REGARDS RESEARCH USES AND NEW RELEASE STRATEGIESSO IF WE HAD TO CONCLUDE ON OUR EXPERIENCES SO FAR IN THIS PROGRAMMEREAD THROUGH
23 Strategi: Oppbygging av gytebestanden ved storskala produksjon av smolt i merdanlegget på Evanger og ved Voss klekkeri i femårsperiodenØkt innsig av Vossolaksfra naturlig rekrutteringØkt naturligsmoltproduksjonGjenoppbygging avgytebestandenWE HAVE BEEN LOOKING TO OTHER SIMIULAR PROJECTS FOR NEW APPROACHES.RIVER VOSSO ONE OF THE MOST FASCINATING SMOLT STOCKING PROJECTS TODAY. NEVER AFFECTED BY GYRO, SAME IMPACTS AS LOCH – FISH FARMING, HYDROPOWER, CLIMATE CHANGE AND PREDATIONCLOSED RIVER IN STARTED SMOLT STOCKING. FISH RELKEASED IN RIVER BUT VERY POOR RESULTS. MORE RECENTLY BIG INCREASE IN NUMBERS OF SMOLTS. TOWING SMOLTS TOO. IMMEDIATE RESULTSFase IFase IIKultivert VossolaksVill Vossolaks
24 River re-opened for 5 weeks only on one Beat Total catch in bagnet at the inlet of the Vosso watershed: Stamnes og Bolstadfjorden,, n = 2251 (2013 preliminary)Angling 2013.River re-opened for 5 weeks only on one Beat5 rods over 5 weeks caught 358 salmon and grilse90% were fin clipped.THE VOSSO RESULTS DEMAND SOME SERIOUS ATTENTION. SO MUCH SO THAT I WENT OUT THERE TO DO SOME RESEARCH THIS YEAR AND IN PROCESS OF SETTING UP AN EU LEARNING PROGRAMME WITH THEM AND POSSIBLY OTHER EUROPEAN PARTNERSEXPLAIN NET CATCHREAD ROD CATCH.Photo: Uni Environment, Bjørn Barlaup
25 Priorities for the Lochy programme for the next 5 years Further develop ties with Vossolauget and other European partners to improve smolt release methods and best practiceResearch the relative importance of sea lice infestation on spawning populations through treated/untreated groups of smolt releasesResearch the relative importance of other local freshwater and estuarine impacts through acoustic tagging of smoltsUse developing genetic tools to improve broodstock selection and monitor long-term impact of the stocking programmeInvestigate and develop methods of towing smolts beyond the impacts in the estuary and releasing on the seaward sideREAD THROUGH
26 River Vosso River Lochy AND WITH FISH LIKE THESE FROM THE VOSSO AND LOCHY I THINK THAT THESE RIVERS ARE WORTH PROTECTINGOGLESBY48LBS LOCHY 1910 AND MORE MODERN 35LBS BIG FISH GENETIC STILL EXISTS.River Lochy