Galloway Fisheries Trust Logo

Galloway Fisheries Trust

Fisheries House, Station Industrial Estate, Newton Stewart, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. DG8 6ND
Telephone: 01671 403011 · Fax: 01671 402248 · Scottish Registered Charity No. SC020751

Looking downstream on the River Cree

Brown Trout

Looking upstream on the River Bladnoch

Felling of commercial forestry in Galloway Forest Park

Looking upstream on the River Luce

North American Signal Crayfish

The sandy beach at Loch Grannoch

Belted Galloway Cattle, or 'Belties'

Fly fishing on the River Cree

Murray's Monument

A small upland burn

A stoneloach

The High Cree, looking towards Cairnsmore of Fleet

A small waterfall on the Buchan Burn

A salmon from the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee

Border Esk Fish Barriers Project


The Border Esk catchment is an important river system for many fish species including the migratory European eel, lamprey, Atlantic salmon and Sea trout. It is known that there are many man-made barriers on many of the spawning and nursery burns which are limiting the available habitat which these fish species can utilise. A joint partnership project was started in 2011 between the Environment Agency, Esk & Liddle Improvement Association (ELIA) and Galloway Fisheries Trust. The project has two main phases as detailed below:

Phase 1: The three organisations will survey all the numerous tributaries which flow into the upper Border Esk (particularly White Esk and Black Esk) and map any man-made barriers which are considered full or partial barriers to migratory fish. Likely man-made barriers which are expected to be found include Irish bridges, dams or weirs and poorly designed culverts or fords. Each of the barriers will be surveyed and an assessment made of the potential upstream habitat which would be available if the barrier was removed or modified to make each more ‘fish friendly’. The barriers will be prioritised dependent on: 1) how easily they could be ‘improved’; 2) the approximate cost for improvements and 3) the likely environmental benefits. The barriers will also need to be assessed using the SNIFFER Barrier Assessment Tool which became active in 2011. GFT staff have attended a training course to use this assessment.

Photograph of a large weir on a tributary of the Border Esk

A large weir on a tributary of the Border Esk

Phase 2: It is envisaged that a three year work programme will start to address the manmade barriers identified in the phase 1 work. Funding of at least £150,000 will need to be sourced before it can proceed.

Project objectives:

  • Partnership working between GFT, EA, ELIA, private landowners / forestry interests, FCS
  • Training in new techniques of barrier assessment, barrier identification and methods to ease fish access past the barriers
  • Identify and quantify man-made fish barriers on Border Esk tributaries
  • Produce a costed plan to address cost effective barrier easement work over 3 years
  • Protect and increase a range of fish species important for biodiversity and economic reasons

Photograph of a forestry road bridge which has caused an impassable barrier

A forestry road bridge which has caused an impassable barrier