“Save Our Smolts” Trap and Truck Project Launched on the River Spey

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“We are thrilled to be launching this important project, which has the potential to make a real difference to the survival of young salmon in the Spey. We believe that by working together, we can protect this vital part of our natural heritage and ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy these magnificent fish.”

Roger Knight, Director of the Spey Fishery Board

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Save Our Smolts project, a ground-breaking initiative aimed at protecting young Atlantic salmon during their critical migration phase from the headwaters of the River Spey to the North Atlantic. This project is a response to the crisis faced by Atlantic salmon populations, with the survival of smolts being essential for the species’ future.

As participants in the Atlantic Salmon Trust’s Moray Firth Tracking Project, which looked at the downstream migration of salmon smolts, the Spey Fishery Board contributed to findings which are indicating that rivers with ‘pinch points’ experience a higher smolt loss rate around these features.

The Save Our Smolts project, building on this valuable data, aims to address this issue by trapping and relocating juvenile salmon around known pinch points on the River Spey, ensuring their safe passage.

Smolt Trap in the River Tromie, above Loch Insh: Steve collecting smolts before they are tagged.

During the 2023 spring and early summer trial, salmon will be collected in traps above Loch Insh, a known pinch point on the River Spey. The salmon will then be electronically tagged, with half released above the loch and half below. By monitoring the survival rates of the two groups, the project aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of trapping and relocating smolts on the River Spey.

The River Spey entering Loch Insh: Loch Insh has been identified as a ‘pinch point’ for salmon smolts
Below Loch Insh: Spey Fishery Board biologist Steve Burns releases tagged smolts below Loch Insh.

Widespread support for the Save Our Smolts project:

“Anglers from across the world visit the River Spey each year to fish for salmon, providing the backbone of our local economy. So we must do all we can to help our Atlantic salmon – an iconic species sadly now in crisis. This work is very demanding on the limited resources of the Board’s small team, but it is vital if we are to achieve our mission of getting as many salmon smolts as possible out to sea. We look forward to hearing about the results in due course.”

Dr Sandy Scott, Chairman of the Spey Fishery Board

“This project is a great example of our sector working together and building on joint successes, ensuring that the important work from the Moray Firth Tracking Project stimulates further action to protect wild fish. That great, collaborative project is giving river boards and managers the confidence to take the next informed steps on their own catchments. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the River Spey, supporting them wherever we can to help them achieve their goals.”

Mark Bilsby, CEO Atlantic Salmon Trust
One of the many acoustic receivers along the Spey, which will record tagged smolts as they swim past

Support for the Save Our Smolts project needed

The board is calling on the public and businesses to support the Save Our Smolts project and help ensure the survival of the iconic Atlantic salmon.

Those who wish to contribute financially to this critical work can contact director@speyfisheryboard.com.

Media enquiries

To read our full press release about this exciting project, please click here.

For all media enquiries, please contact media@speyfisheryboard.com

1 thought on ““Save Our Smolts” Trap and Truck Project Launched on the River Spey”

  1. You moved 800 smolts. Seriously!!! My children would have loved doing that. Can we participate next year?
    I know you guys are trying but the answer isn’t this.

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