The Scottish Mink Initiative is a community based project which works with local communities, wildlife and fisheries managers, landowners, schools, householders and local interest groups. The Initiative aims to safeguard local businesses and livelihoods which are dependent on wildlife tourism, angling and shooting.
Phase 1 saw the successful transfer of the long term mink monitoring and control programme to ten fisheries trusts across the Scottish Mink Initiative work area. The Scottish Mink Initiative have ambitious plans to eradicate breeding American mink from north Scotland. Please see link for further information, how to volunteer or report a mink sighting.
Below are some pictures of invasive critters drawn by Strathconon Primary School children. This has been part of an invasives education programme delivered by the Trust.
This gallery contains 19 photos.
Seashore festival photos
Meig smolt research
A Rotary Screw Trap has been installed on the River Meig upstream of Loch Meig this spring. The intention is to tag some of the smolts migrating downstream with electronic PIT tags and monitor their passage and survival through Loch Meig. A PIT tag decoder in Meig Dam will be used to detect tagged smolts as they pass downstream
HRH Princess Anne visited the Conon and was shown some of the work of the Cromarty Board and Trust by Lord Nickson and members of staff. The visit included a demonstration of the Mayfly in the Classroom project with Strathpeffer 1ary School as well as electro-fishing and smolt tagging demonstrations.
Sea Trout fishing in the sea
In recent months there has been an increase in rod and line fishing for sea trout in the sea around the Moray Firth. It has become clear that the conservation measures which anglers fishing the regions rivers are not being adhered to. Anyone fishing for sea trout around the coast must have legal right and permission to do so. Bailiffs will be checking coastal anglers during patrols and the illegal taking of sea trout may lead to prosecution.
River Bran smolt trapping
There appears to be a strong smolt run this spring with nearly 8,000 smolts trapped at the Bran smolt trap near Achanalt by early May. The smolts are transported by road (past a hydro dam which prevents downstream passage) and released below the lowest hydro dam on the Conon system. Every year a thousand of these smolts are tagged with electronic PIT tags which are then read back as the returning adults pass upstream through hydro dams.
Bran Trap in operation
Smolts in trap box ready for transfer
Moray Firth Trout Initiative News
Follow the link below to the Moray Firth Trout Initiative Newsletter. This edition has an excellent report on scale reading research in the region. This research is only possible because of the cooperation of local anglers in providing scales.
MFTI Newsletter Spring 2014
This year’s fry planting on the Conon is well underway. Large areas of the Conon catchment are dependent on a mitigation stocking programme which has been running for more than 50 years. This programme has proved successful and sustainable over this time period. This is because of the large scale of broodstock collection and the distribution of juvenile salmon at the earliest possible life history stages into excellent habitat which salmon are unable to stock naturally. Just under 2 million eggs and fry will be stocked this year. Around a third were stocked as eyed eggs in February and the remainder are transported as fry and spread thinly into optimum habitat.
Transport tank carries fry from the hatchery
Fry are transferred to a bucket
Then carefully spread into shallow habitat with plenty of cover
Meig Smolt Trapping
This year in addition to our long term smolt tagging project on the River Bran, we are running a smolt tagging project on the River Meig. To do this a Rotary Screw Trap has been installed upstream of Loch Meig. Loch Achonachie Angling Association kindly let us use one of their boats, so that we could assemble the trap at a safe launching point and then tow it upstream to a trapping location in the River Meig.
Scottish and Southern Energy have supplied enough electronic PIT tags for us to tag 1,000 smolts this spring. This will allow a direct comparison of the success of smolts heading down the Meig with the neighbouring River Bran. As the smolts pass through Meig dam an automatic decoder will record the individual tag number of each fish and will also do this again when they return as adults.
River Bran Smolt Trapping started
The Smolt trap on the River Bran at Achanalt was opened on the 31st of march. This trap is used to catch the entire smolt run of the Bran, the smolts are then loaded into a transport tank and trucked past the hydo scheme before being released below Tor Achilty Dam. Not only does this maintain the Bran as a salmon river by avoiding Luichart Dam (which is passable upstream but not downstream), it also allows long term monitoring of smolt production and marine survival. In collaboration with Marine Scotland Science a thousand of the smolts from the Bran trap are tagged each year with electronic PIT tags. When the adult fish return either as grilse next year or 2 sea winter salmon in 2016, the tags numbers of individual fish are recorded by automatic decoders in the hydro dams.