SFB Briefing – July 2016

The latest Spey Fishery Board and Spey Foundation Briefing for July 2016 has now been published and is available to download and read here.  In this month’s issue you will read about the following topics:

  • 2016 Smolt Trapping Season results
  • Education – Salmon in the Classroom 2016
  • Conservation Limits
  • Spey Catchment Initiative update

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Spey Fishery Board

Week Commencing 20th June 2016

Last week’s forecast was fairly accurate, but Fridays showers were particularly heavy especially in the Rothes area, the Rothes to Elgin road was closed for a while and parts of the town were partially flooded. The Granty Burn had a small landslide and this caused the river downstream to colour up and become unfishable. The Avon also rose with the localised rain and the river downstream carried some colour. Cue little graphs and Yangtze pictures!

River Levels Avon

River Levels Avon

River Levels Boat o Brig

River Levels Boat o Brig

Lower Spey Friday Afternoon

Lower Spey Friday Afternoon

Next week’s forecast is for some more rain, this morning was very warm and sunny but things are changing and there will be rain this evening. The long term forecast shows some rain everyday next week, heaviest on Wednesday. The river is sitting around 18″ and still carrying a little bit of colour. Tides peaked last week and there will be no new water till Thursday night.

 

Catches: The Spey is fishing well!

The Gordon castle beats finished in the mid eighties. Many thanks to Alex Robertson for his photos, Alex tells me that he was accompanied in his fishing with an Osprey, no photos of the Osprey and Alex reckons he out fished it anyway!

Alex Robertson Gordon Castle

Alex Robertson Gordon Castle.

Gordon Castle

Gordon Castle.

Delfur, mid fifties again, but only half a day lost this week! Mark’s photographs are getting better and better.

Going Back

Going Back

Return.

Return.

Mrs Potter Delfur

Mrs Potter Delfur.

Rothes, John Bladon’s party had another successful week finishing like Delfur in the mid fifties.

Jane Wright Rothes

Jane Wright Rothes

Easter Elchies report this week and finished in the mid teens.

Craigellachie had a successful week finishing in the twenties. Nigel Arthur seems to appear in quite a lot of the pictures.

Nigel Arthur Craigellachie

Nigel Arthur Craigellachie.

Nigel Again

Nigel Again.

And Again

And Again.

Mike Broady Craigellachie

Mike Broadey Craigellachie.

John Arthur Craigellachie

John Arthur Craigellachie.

Aberlour Angling Association finished with over half a dozen, visiting anglers Tom Robinson and Steve Foster had a great week.

Kinermony finished with eighteen; Robin Taylor was the main man with seven to his own rod.

Robin Taylor Kinermony

Robin Taylor Kinermony.

George Pullen Kinermony

George Pullen Kinermony

Carron again fished well with ten landed on Monday and finished the week with close to thirty.

Neil Borthwick Carron

Neil Borthwick Carron

Richard Meigh Carron

Richard Meigh Carron

I was pleased to hear from Lionel Main, with some pictures of his successful anglers and a great picture of a Butterfly Orchid.

Henry Harvey 1st Spey Fish Castle Grant

Henry Harvey 1st Spey Fish Castle Grant

Lionel Main

Lionel Main

Greater Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera Chloranthea) Polchraine Castle Grant.

Greater Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera Chloranthea) Polchraine Castle Grant.

Grantown continue to catch both salmon and seatrout. Some of the seatrout are of a decent size around the 8lb mark with more of about 6lb.

Kinchurdy are also reporting good numbers of salmon and seatrout. Many thanks to gillie Bobby Hall for his supply of pictures.

Mike Kemeny Kinchurdy

Mike Kemeny Kinchurdy.

Bobby Hall Kinchurdy

Bobby Hall Kinchurdy

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Spey Fishery Board

Week Commencing 13th June.

Well last week’s forecast was reasonably accurate, but perhaps the quantities of the rain was not emphasised enough. It rained on Tuesday into Wednesday and the river rose to over 2 meters or 6 feet if you prefer. Again the turbidity was poor. These weekly reports are getting a bit predictable, pictures of coloured water, and little graphs showing the rise(s). Next week is not dissimilar; there will be some heavy rain this evening, and in the morning then a dry afternoon and some more rain Tuesday evening. I am unsure whether the river will rise much but it should certainly not fall much. The tides peak mid week.

Avon levels

Avon levels

Spey at Aberlour

Spey at Aberlour

Spey Boat on the Yangtze.

Spey Boat on the Yangtze.

Catches: It will be obvious that the week is pretty much split into three, Monday and Tuesday when catches were good, Wednesday and Thursday when catches were poor and then improving again as the river fell and cleared.

Gordon Castle had another good week with close to seventy fish landed. Thanks to Spey regular Alex Robertson for his pictures, head gillie Ian Tennant looking happy.

Alex Robertson Brae 3

Alex Robertson Brae 3

Ian Tennant with Alex Robertson's fish

Ian Tennant with Alex Robertson’s fish

Ian with another of Alex's fish

Ian with another of Alex’s fish

Guess again!

Guess again!

Delfur also had another good week with over fifty landed. There was some excitement when a fin-clipped fish was landed, but at 8lbs it is unlikely to be a Tommore burn fish. A sample has been sent for DNA analysis so we should know something soon. But it is a timely reminder to keep looking for fin-clipped fish.  As usual Mark is generous with his pictures.

Steve Smith Delfur

Steve Smith Delfur

Edward Mountain Delfur

Sir Edward Mountain Delfur

A Silver Spey at work.

A Silver Spey at work.

Rothes finished with thirty-five, or as Mike put it not bad for four days fishing.

Craigellachie ended just short of double figures.

Kinermony had eight. Wester Elchies managed fifteen. I hear Delagyle had a few including a big fish, unfortunately no details.

Carron had a bumper week, with thirty-one. Many thanks to Neil and Ian Borthwick and Brian Shaw for the pictures.

Neil Borthwick Carron

Neil Borthwick Carron

Ian Borthwick Carron

Ian Borthwick Carron

Brian Shaw Carron

Brian Shaw Carron

Ian Borthwick with Brian Shaw's grilse

Ian Borthwick with Brian Shaw’s grilse

I hear Laggan had a couple of good days towards the end of the week.

Grantown as expected with a lift in the water height had a good week finishing with over twenty-five. The seatrout numbers continue to increase and there were three this week over 6 lbs.

Roy MacGregor Lurg Grantown

Roy MacGregor Lurg Grantown

Kinchurdy also fished well with a good number of both salmon and seatrout. Bobby Hall, as usual, has kept me supplied with plenty of photographs of his happy anglers.

Patrick Smith Kinchurdy

Patrick Smith Kinchurdy

Janet Clark Kinchurdy

Janet Clark Kinchurdy

Janet again

Janet again

And Again

And Again.

And yet again!

And yet again!

Andrew Miller Kinchurdy

Andrew Miller Kinchurdy

 

 

 

 

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Spey Fishery Board

Week Commencing May 30th 2016

Well last week’s forecast was not very accurate, the start of the week was overcast, misty and drizzly, and Wednesday was probably one of the brightest days rather than the dullest. Last Sunday’s storms had quite an effect on the river, the Avon rose quickly and this plus other local burns pushed up the main river. The turbidity seemed to be worse as you headed down the river and it certainly put the fish off. By Monday evening it started to clear around Carron area so much so Laggan had a couple in the evening.

Avon Sunday night.

Avon Sunday night.

Boat o Brig Sunday night

Boat o Brig Sunday night

This week’s forecast for what it is worth is to be dry, bright, and sunny for the first half of the week followed by overcast conditions for the second half, and possibly some rain towards the weekend. The tides peak on Tuesday morning then there will be no new water till the following week.

The Norwegian Salmon season opened on Wednesday can I ask that all anglers who have been over for the opening ensure that all precautions have been taken to make sure that Gyrodactylus salaris is not brought into the Spey. All equipment associated with angling and water sports should be thoroughly cleaned and treated to kill the parasite by either:

Drying at a minimum temperature of at least 20C for at least 2 days
Heating for at least 1 hour at temperatures of above 60C
Deep freezing for at least 1 day
Immersion in a solution* suitable for killing the parasite for a minimum of 10 minutes Virkon Aquatic (1),Wescodyne (1), sodium chloride (3), and sodium hydroxide (0.2).

Turning up on the beat on Monday morning expecting the gillie to give your tackle a quick spray, is neither sensible nor effective.

Catches: As I said earlier Monday below the Avon was pretty much a write off, so most of the catches are for a 5-day week.
Gordon Castle finished the week with close to twenty. I am very pleased that Jennifer in the Estate Office could find time to send me some photographs of their happy anglers.

Gordon Castle

Gordon Castle

Gordon Castle

Gordon Castle

Caught by Trevor Malloch on Beat 3

Caught by Trevor Malloch on Beat 3

Delfur had another good week finishing again in the thirties. Again as always thanks to Mark for his photographs.

Peter Pleydell-Bouverie's fish Delfur.

Peter Pleydell-Bouverie’s fish Delfur.

Peter Pleydell-Bouverie Delfur

Peter Pleydell-Bouverie Delfur

Mr Heller Delfur

Mr Heller Delfur

Timmy Pleydell-Bouverie, Delfur

Timmy Pleydell-Bouverie, Delfur

Rothes, Mr. and Mrs. J Blaydon had a great week finishing on thirty-six, on Thursday they had somewhat of a red-letter day landing seventeen, Amongst all these fish there were three first fish, Catrina and her mother Jane both had their first fish from Town Road within half an hour of each other.

Catrina Till Rothes

Catrina Till Rothes

Jane Till Rothes

Jane Till Rothes

Will Elphinstone Rothes

Will Elphinstone Rothes.

Ronnie Munro- Ferguson Rothes

Ronnie Munro- Ferguson Rothes

I understand Arndilly were also in the thirty bracket, so over one hundred fish from three beats which makes a mockery of the FishPal Catch figures showing 95 for the river.

This week Easter Elchies report and show close to twenty.

Craigellachie continue their good spell, with sixteen landed, thanks to Dougie Ross for the use of his pictures.

Tony Ellerbeck Craigellachie

Tony Ellerbeck Craigellachie

Jonathan Ellerbeck Craigellachie

Jonathan Ellerbeck Craigellachie

Henry Taylor Craigellachie

Henry Taylor Craigellachie

GordonSmit, with Richard Taylor's fish Craigellachie

Gordon Smith, with Richard Taylor’s fish Craigellachie

Kinermony was fished by Peter Kyte and party, Peter tells me they finished with six, Ian Pawley was the top rod with four. I hear that Delagyle had somewhere in the mid teens but have no more details.

Peter Kyte Kinermony

Peter Kyte Kinermony

Ian Pawley Kinermony

Ian Pawley Kinermony

Ian Pawley Kinermony

Ian Pawley Kinermony

Mr. Jimmy Jack and friends fished Carron and finished the week with eleven, I have been promised some pictures. I believe Laggan had a similar number.

I hear the Knockando beats fished well with the Home beat landing at least ten one day.
As usual my information dries up till I get to Grantown. Jimmy Mitchell tells me that they had a good week, with around twenty-three landed with at leat three in the mid-teens. The seatrout fishing continues to improve with a few decent fish over the 5lb mark.

Again I am very grateful to Bobby Hall for his updates and photographs from Kinchurdy. It is good to hear they are catching both salmon and seatrout.

Steve Hill Kinchurdy

Steve Hill Kinchurdy

Julia Mossman, Kinchurdy

Julia Mossman, Kinchurdy

Bill Neave Kinchurdy

Bill Neave Kinchurdy

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Spey Fishery Board

Week Commencing 25th April 2016

The weather forecast last week was pretty accurate, certainly more winter than summer. There were some unpleasant showers on Monday it was cold with the hail and blustery north wind. The river certainly showed the diurnal effect, more noticeable on the smaller Avon.

Diurnal Effect

Diurnal Effect

For man or

Unpleasant for man or

beasts

beasts

 

This weeks forecast is warmer, but so it should be after all today is the First of May. Monday will be wet; this coupled with some snowmelt could well push the river up. Temperatures are predicted to reach the low teens most afternoons. The wind will become more westerly, moderate at times. The tides are building all week.

 

I saw my first brood of mallards on Saturday, and the dippers I watched nest building earlier in the year are feeding the fledglings. Can I just remind dog owners to keep their dogs under control as there are many ground nesting birds close to the river bank, this week I saw two oystercatchers’ nests and a couple of pheasants’ nests.

 

Catches: Again the catches are reasonably well distributed from above Grantown to the sea. It is nice to see a few seatrout being caught, judging by the cold nights I assume most are being picked up whilst fishing for salmon.

Gordon Castle had a handful.

I hear Orton started the week well with seven on Monday but have no more news.

Delfur had a great week, finishing with twenty-one. Graham Ritchie was top rod landing 5 salmon and a 9lb seatrout. Willie Mair, Liza O Brien, Dave Sadowski and Charles Harman also got their seasons underway.

Graham Ritchie 9lb Seatrout.

Graham Ritchie 9lb Seatrout.

Grant with Mrs Liza O Brien's fish

Grant with Mrs Liza O Brien’s fish.

David Sadowski Beaufort Delfur

David Sadowski Beaufort Delfur.

Willie Mair Sourden Delfur

Willie Mair Sourden Delfur

Willie Mair Collie Delfur

Willie Mair Collie Delfur

Both Rothes and Arndilly had seven apiece.

Craigellachie had a good week with six landed, many thanks to Dougie Ross for his photographs.

Dave Brown's fish Craigellachie

Dave Brown’s fish Craigellachie

Charlie Parker Craigellachie

Charlie Parker Craigellachie.

Kinermony had 4 including a first fish for Evie Dixon.

Evie Dixon Boat Pool Kinermony

Evie Dixon Boat Pool Kinermony

Phil, Little Turn Kinermony

Phil, Little Turn Kinermony.

Evie Dixon Again Dykie Kinermony

Evie Dixon Again Dykie Kinermony

Wester Elchies had five most of them towards the weekend.

Alan Williams’ party had 4 at Carron and a couple at Phones.

Peter Hosker Carron

Peter Hosker Carron.

sandy Smith with David Wiliams' fish phones

Sandy Smith with David Wiliams’ fish phones

Information further upstream is a little sketchy but I hear Tulchan is still fishing well.

Grantown remained cold and at times a blizzard blew, but George Oliver persevered and was rewarded with a 15lb fish from Pol Clach.

George Oliver Poll Clach Grantown

George Oliver Poll Clach Grantown

Kinchurdy had a mixture of salmon and seatrout, Brian Perry enjoyed his three days and added his thanks to Bobby Hall for looking after him so well.

Brian Perry Kinhurdy

Brian Perry Kinchurdy

 

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Spey Fishery Board

May Briefing Published

The Spey Fishery Board and Spey Foundation Briefing for May 2016 has now published and is available to read and download here.

This month’s Briefing includes the following topics:

  • Official Re-classification of Spey Dam as a “Barrier”
  • Salmon Teach Kids a Lesson
  • Smolt Trap Season 2016
  • Delagyle Side Channel Re-connection project
  • Watch out for Fin-clipped Grilse
  • 2016 UK Rivers Restoration Prize
  • Spey Catchment Management Plan Review
  • Exhibition at Aberlour
  • Spey Fishery Board Meeting dates for your diary

 

 

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Spey Fishery Board

Smolt trap updates

This post provides an update on catches in the Tommore and Avon smolt traps as of this morning.

River levels increased in both the Tommore and the Avon over the weekend, mainly due to the thawing of the snow which fell on Friday and Saturday. On the way back down from Glenlivet on Saturday afternoon the temperature in our car read 1.50C, it was bitterly cold in some of the heavy snow showers although a lot milder on Sunday and even more so today with half a gale blowing from the west. All the recent snow in the Tommore hills has gone although there is still plenty lying in the Cairngorms above 3000′ or so which should keep the Avon at a moderate level.

Recent catches in the Tommore have been slow with only one salmon smolt caught over the weekend, along with a few parr. Total catches to date are: salmon smolts/presmolts = 310, salmon parr = 70, trout = 89. The average temperature recorded in the Tommore so far this year has been 4.6oC, slightly lower than the 4.72oC recorded during the same period in 2015. The burn level has been higher on average this year (17.8cm compared to 14.5cm in 2015). In summary there has been more water but colder so far, although temperatures should rise this week.

Tommore Burn dily salmon smolt catches to date related to water level

Tommore Burn daily salmon smolt catches to date related to water level.

 

Tommore Burn salmon smolt cumulative total compared to 2015.

Tommore Burn salmon smolt running total compared to 2015.

In the Avon smolt traps the catches have increased with the salmon smolt catch today (155) being the highest so far this year. To date the salmon smolt catch this year is 536 (477 same date last year). Trout catches in the Avon (197 so far) are well ahead of that recorded by the same date in 2015 (85).  Our river level gauge in the Avon is reinstalled each year so we have no relative measure of river levels over the years (we will obtain flow data from SEPA for the Delnashaugh gauging station in due course) but we do know that the temperatures have been similar, although marginally colder this year (5.1oC average compared to 5.2).

River Avon smolt traps daily salmon smolt catch related to river level.

River Avon smolt traps daily salmon smolt catch related to river level.

The major difference between the Tommore and the Avon traps is that the Tommore is a total capture trap i.e. designed to catch everything coming downstream, whilst the Avon traps only sample a small proportion of the total run. To address this we run mark/recapture trials in the Avon with three completed so far this year. From these three trials the recapture rate so far this year has been 3.4% compared to 11.9% at this stage last year. The lower recapture rates are almost certainly a reflection of the higher river levels this year in the Avon. What this means is that we are only catching approximately one in thirty of the smolts going downstream at present. A further trial was initiated this morning with 154 salmon  marked and released back upstream so we anticipate a few recaptures tomorrow.

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Spey Fishery Board

Smolt trap update

What a difference a week makes; this time last week the Avon smolt trap catch was ahead of the same date last year but one week on the running total is now well behind. In the six day period up to 26th April 2015 we caught over 2000 smolts in the Avon traps compared to 93 in the same period this year. Each year is different of course with snow featuring more than sun in the forecast on Speyside over the last couple weeks. The average river temp over that six day period this year was 5.3oC compared to 8.8oC last year. River levels have dropped over the course of the week whereas last year there was a small rise midweek. Still we are nearer the start of the normal smolt migration period than the end so there is time yet but it would be good to see the run increasing soon.

River Avon smolt traps daily salmon catch related to river height

River Avon smolt traps daily salmon catch related to river height.

River

River Avon smolt traps daily catch related to river temperature.

On the Tommore Burn the catch has been equally slow with one smolt trapped over the course of the last week. The temperature was only 3.1oC this morning but the snow over the last few days should produce a rise in water levels when the thaw arrives.

Tommore smolt trap running total 2015/2016

Tommore smolt trap running total 2015/2016

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Spey Fishery Board

Smolt trap update

Quick update on the Tommore and Avon traps

Tommore

Catches have declined since the big catch last Tuesday along with water levels.

Tommore Burn trap daily catch related to river level

Tommore Burn trap daily catch related to river level.The total presmolt/smolt catch to date is 307, well ahead of last year although the trap was deployed much earlier this year. On a like for like basis the catch this year is lower than in 2015 although we will never know if we missed a similar early run last year.

One interesting feature is the capture of 59 fin-clipped one year old parr (only 2 during the whole deployment in 2015). These are generally between 55 to 70mm and will not smolt this year. The trout catch in the Tommore is also well ahead of 2015; 82 trout have been caught so far compared to 7 at the same date last year (virtually none during the earlier deployment period this year). The same high trout catch has been recorded in the Avon trap and the Deveron guys report similar in the Fiddich and Deveron traps.

Tommore trap running total salmon presmolt/smolt 2015/16

2015/16 Tommore trap running total salmon presmolt/smolt

Avon

Catches have been steady over the last week. Two recapture trials have been completed with low recapture rates between 2.5 to 10%. The running total for salmon presmolt/smolt so far is 255 compared to 275 at the same date in 2015. The trout catch is much higher for the same date; 136 trout have been caught in the traps compared to 50 last year. Something different is occurring with the trout this year.

We are inspecting all the salmon careful for fin-clipped fish and on the 10th April four fin-clipped one year old parr were caught in the Avon traps. So far only 59 fin-clipped 1+ parr have been caught in the Tommore trap, including 11 on the 9th. Of course parr are likely to have been migrating out of the Tommore all winter so will not know if these were recent emigrants or fish which have been sitting in the Avon for a while. Four out of eleven recaptures seems improbably high compared to our smolt recapture trials, so it is unlikely that these were all released from the Tommore trap the previous day.

I’ll try to provide a further update before the weekend.

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Spey Fishery Board

Official re-classification of Spey Dam as a “barrier”

Official re-classification of Spey Dam as a “barrier” offers prospect of much improved access for spawning salmon to important upper Spey tributary for first time in 70 years

The Spey Fishery Board has welcomed the recent re-classification by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) of Spey Dam as a “barrier to fish passage” as this designation places an obligation on the agency to find a solution to the long-standing problems caused by the obstacle to salmon migration. Spey Dam was completed soon after the Second World War and since then the dam has severely curtailed access by salmon to the extensive spawning above.

Spey Dam 1

Roger Knight, SFB Director, said: “For many years we have been concerned about the negative impact of Spey Dam and the water regime associated with it. These concerns have been amplified by the step-change in juvenile populations as a result of the Dam; there is an abundance of juvenile salmon immediately below the dam, in stark contrast to the scarcity of juvenile salmon above it. In fact, in 2014, no salmon fry at all were found above the dam. These issues arise from the performance of the fish pass in the dam and the water flows emanating from it, compromising the ability of adult salmon to migrate up-river and the ability of salmon smolts to descend on their way to sea. Juvenile salmon have also passed through the screens at the off-take, from where water is diverted west to Fort William, with some dying as a result of being pinned against the mesh. In addition, fish are barred from accessing the historically important River Markie tributary.”

Roger Knight added: “We are very pleased that SEPA has now formally recognised the problems associated with the dam and, in the latest River Basin Management Plan for Scotland, classified both the structure and the area above the dam as ‘poor’. As a consequence, by 2027 there must be significant improvements to the status quo to ensure that Spey Dam and the surrounding habitat comply with the provisions of the relevant European legislation under the Water Framework Directive. In essence this means that measures must now be put in place to enable greatly improved fish passage. In time this should lead to a major boost to juvenile salmon numbers in the upper Spey.”

Spey Dam 2

Brian Doran, SFB Chairman, stated: “We welcome this decision. We have worked closely with SEPA for a number of years to understand the impacts of water abstraction in the upper Spey catchment. The proposal by Scottish and Southern Energy to transfer more water away from the Truim and Tromie tributaries was withdrawn in 2014 and now the negative influence of Spey Dam and its water regime will come under close scrutiny. We look forward to cooperating with SEPA in order to achieve the optimum outcome over the coming years for the long-term benefit of the Spey’s salmon stocks.”

Craig McKay, Chairman of the River Spey Anglers Association, and Grant Mortimer, Secretary of the Strathspey Angling Improvement Association, said in a joint statement: “The importance of free passage of salmon to high altitude spawning is well-documented. Furthermore we recognise how important the conservation and free passage of salmon is throughout the Spey catchment and particularly for the communities above Grantown where angling is mainly organised by clubs and associations. The quality of the fishings in the upper Spey relies significantly on salmon being able to migrate successfully to the spawning areas above. The fish which spawn here tend to be early-running or ‘spring salmon’ – the component of the Spey salmon population under most pressure.”

Spey Dam is owned and operated by Rio Tinto Alcan. The dam facilitates the diversion of water from the Spey catchment to Lochs Crunachden and Kinloch Laggan and eventually to the aluminium smelter at Fort William. This diversion regime was permitted by an Act of Parliament in 1920 in the aftermath of the First World War and the advent of air power in warfare that necessitated Great Britain becoming self sufficient in the production of aluminium, utilising Scotland’s hydro power and imported Bauxite. Spey Dam became fully operational after the Second World War.

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