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Science into Action: Moray Firth Tracking Project leads to action on the River Spey

Our research projects aim to achieve impact to benefit wild salmon and sea trout, by resulting in action on the ground, helping to support managers and policymakers take the necessary steps to restore their salmon populations. Transforming science into action is our goal, and we are delighted that the Spey Fishery Board is launching its Save Our Smolts project off the back of the preliminary findings from the Moray Firth Tracking Project. The Project is proving to be a springboard, giving river managers the confidence to press on with their own initiatives to take the next, informed steps in their own catchments.

After identifying the potential issues around ‘pinch points’ that salmon smolts are facing on their downstream migration, the River Spey’s Save Our Smolts project represents the next stage in measuring the impact of these pinch points, and puts direct management strategies to the test.

Watch our recent Moray Firth Tracking Project update film here for an overview of the early findings which have helped to inspire the River Spey’s new action.

The Save Our Smolts project, building on the valuable data from the Moray Firth Tracking Project, aims to trap and relocate juvenile salmon around known pinch points on the River Spey, ensuring their safe passage. During the 2023 spring and early summer trial, salmon smolts will be collected in traps above Loch Insch, identified by the Spey Fishery Board as a pinch point on the River Spey. The salmon smolts will then be acoustically tagged, with half released above the loch and half below. By comparing the survival rates of the two groups, the project aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of trapping and relocating smolts on the River Spey, and to give greater weight to the need to overcome pinch points with long term solutions.

Roger Knight, Director of the Spey Fishery Board, made these remarks ahead of the launch of the Save Our Smolts initiative:

We have been working closely with the Atlantic Salmon Trust, supported by the Missing Salmon Alliance, for several years as part of the Moray Firth Tracking Project, to find out where we are losing our smolts. The indications from last year’s work with them highlighted Loch Insch as a potential problem and inspired us to focus our action on this area, including a trial of trapping and trucking. We hope it will help “Save Our Smolts” and enable more of our iconic fish to reach the sea for their onward migration

Roger Knight – Director, Spey Fishery Board

We look forward to seeing the results and supporting the River Spey team however we can.

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