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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

Good news in the Old Mill Burn, Tarff Water

01 March 2018

The weir being removed in 2016

The weir being removed in 2016

Where the weir used to be!

Where the weir used to be!

The old weir which was impassable to migrating salmon and trout

The old weir which was impassable to migrating salmon and trout

Surveys have shown that salmon and other native fish populations in the Old Mill Burn, Twynholm, have had a real boost since a disused weir was removed. Investigations by the GFT have found salmon above the site of the old Creamery Weir for the first time in generations. The unused weir was first built around a century ago, and had been a 3.5m high barrier to natural fish migration into around 10 km of healthy river habitat further upstream. In autumn 2016 the weir was removed by a partnership between the GFT and SEPA’s Water Environment Fund, led by the River and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS).  Full weir removal was chosen as the weir had not been maintained for many years and would one day have failed.

Scottish salmon is an iconic species at home, but is also internationally protected due to concern about its wider populations in the Atlantic. Removal of barriers to their spawning grounds is one of the quickest ways of increasing their freshwater populations. However, they won’t be the only fish benefiting from the project: eel, sea trout and lamprey are all threatened native species that we now hopes to see thriving in their new home.

Fish counts were taken before the work on the weir started and not a single salmon could be found upstream of the weir. In 2017 GFT undertook electrofishing surveys above where the weir stood to check on project success and they found that salmon had spawned above the weir for the first time in living memory. Electrofishing uses a mild electric current to gently stun young fish allowing the Trust to carefully identify, measure and record them, before returning the fish alive and unharmed to their watery home.

The Creamery Weir project is one of many river restoration projects being undertaken across Scotland to improve the quality of Scottish rivers. It is envisaged that the cumulative effect of this work will boost native fish populations whilst restoring the natural functions of Scottish Rivers. 

Jamie Ribbens of the GFT said: “Within about a month after the weir was removed wild salmon must have taken full advantage of the opened reaches and spawned upstream for the first time in many decades. Not only that, but we found high numbers of  salmon fry, which means that very successful spawning had taken place in the first winter after weir removal. GFT will continue to survey the river over the next 5 years to see if the fish can build on their early achievements”.

Francis Hayes from Water Environment Fund said “We are so happy this project has already led to healthier river ecology, where salmon and other migrating fish in the Old Mill Burn will improve not only the local environment but also food chains out at sea. It’s a great example of good partnership working between local Trusts and national bodies to get results”

Chris Horrill from RAFTS said “This project stands out as one of the fastest recoveries of spawning fish after a redundant barrier has been removed. It’s great to be involved in it.”

Councillor Jane Maitland commented: “The people at Twynholm long knew that the Creamery Weir was a barrier to fish trying to get up the River Tarff.  The late Simon Ingall (Chairman of Dee District Salmon Fishery Board) was very helpful at the start and I know the Community Council is delighted with the success of the project.  We all look forward to hearing more about new scaly residents as they settle in and (with luck) multiply!”

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