Catches on the Dee have been a source of concern for the past few years. Unsurprisingly, this has generated a lot of concern among owners, ghillies and anglers. The Dee Board is committed to doing everything in its power to help support our fishery and to explore any avenue which may help us to arrest the recent decline in rod caught salmon.
The development of a hatchery on the Dee has long been a bone of contention on the catchment. It is a topic which generates a lot of conjecture and strong feelings on both sides of the debate. In order to look at this dispassionately we took the decision to revisit this topic with a fresh set of eyes. Accordingly, the Board commissioned an independent study into the feasibility of stocking Atlantic Salmon to help boost rod catches. We gave the study free access to all the data and management information held by us, opening ourselves up to detailed scrutiny by the report authors.
Forth Fisheries Trust were appointed to lead the study and together with the support of Trex Ecology, the University of Stirling, The Queen’s University of Belfast and Aqua EcoSystems BV they have produced a report which asks and answers the question:
Is a hatchery a practical, cost effective, sustainable and beneficial way of boosting rod catches of adult Atlantic Salmon in the Dee?
The report looks at the subject from three key perspectives:
the biology of the river (are we maximising the spawning and rearing potential of the catchment?);
the economics of a hatchery (the indicative cost to develop a hatchery and yearly running costs)
the legalities of establishing a hatchery (would a licence be granted ?)
The authors conclude that it is not currently appropriate to stock the Dee with Atlantic Salmon of any life history stage to enhance the fishery. The authors give several reasons for this including the risks to the wild population, the high costs of a hatchery operation and that the granting of a licence to stock salmon in the river is highly unlikely. The authors do consider that there may be scenarios where conservation stocking may be of value to protect the stocks against catastrophe. With that in mind the report suggests the Dee should have access to a hatchery for this limited purpose only.
The Board will seek feedback from our proprietors before determining our position.
The report was presented at a public meeting on 6 October and can be viewed via the links below
River Dee Hatchery Appraisal 2016
Dee Hatchery Appraisal 2016- Appendices