Michelle Ballantyne – MSP for the South of Scotland – spent a day with the River Tweed Commission and Tweed Foundation learning more about Tweed Salmon in her role as the Scottish Environment Species Champion for Atlantic Salmon. Mrs Ballantyne commented:
“As the species champion for Atlantic Salmon, it was a pleasure to meet with The Tweed Foundation and the River Tweed Commission.
“As a big industry in the Borders and across Scotland, it’s vital that we continue to promote angling and fishing. The industry also provides a lot of tourism in the Borders and we should make sure this continues.
“I would like to thank the River Tweed Commission for the conservation work they do, and for inviting me to visit them.”
Mrs Ballantyne, who lives next to the Tweed, learned more about the importance of stock management and assessing the strength of particular populations of Salmon by monitoring the juvenile life stages during an electro-fishing trip on the Leader Water with The Tweed Foundation.
In addition, the River Tweed Commission explained more about the enormous pressures that Salmon are currently facing, both on Tweed and nationwide, most of which are out at sea. The huge importance of angling to the local economy was highlighted, with the industry being worth around £24m to the Borders each year.
The afternoon saw a trip to the new fish counter facility on the Ettrick Water at Philliphaugh, which was funded by Marine Scotland and The Tweed Foundation, allowing the fragile Spring Salmon stock to be closely monitored once more.
Fay Hieatt, Chief Executive of the River Tweed Commission & Tweed Foundation said:
“We are delighted to be able to work with Michelle Ballantyne in her new role as Species Champion for Atlantic Salmon.
“Wild Atlantic Salmon stocks on Tweed, and nationwide, are currently experiencing a huge amount of pressures. Whilst many of these pressures are out at sea, the River Tweed Commission & Tweed Foundation continue to work hard to limit factors which impact on the river phase of our Salmon.
“Enabling as many smolts as possible to get out to sea is key so that Salmon return to the river to produce the next generation.
“Whilst the immediate prospects for fishing may not be that special, biologically nothing in the river has altered for fish since Tweed saw its best runs of Salmon in 2010 & 2011; hopefully, angling opportunities will also improve soon.”
Michelle Ballantyne MSP praised the Tweed Fisheries Management bodies for their conservation efforts and highlighted the importance of angling in the Borders.
The Ettrick Fish Counter has been provided with the support of The Scottish Government