A project to track the movements of salmon caught and released from a netting station on the Caithness coast has been initiated by Marine Scotland Science. Reader will recall that in July 2015 the Scottish Government announced that that a moratorium on coastal netting of salmon was to be introduced, with effect from 2016. Initially it was reported that the moratorium would be reviewed after three years and the 2017 salmon conservation regulations states that “the prohibition on the retention of salmon caught in coastal waters remains in place due to the mixed stock nature of the fishery and limited data on the composition of the catch (this will reviewed in 2018)”. Until now no new research had been commissioned to inform the review scheduled for 2018.
This new tracking project , the “Armadale Tracking Project”, has been initiated to provide some information on the extent of the mixed stock nature of this particular coastal netting station. Armadale, which lies almost midway along the north coast of Caithness, was a long established and prominent coastal netting station. Earlier work, using visual tags, at similar netting stations (more info here), has shown that salmon released at a variety of coastal netting stations were often subsequently recaptured over a wide geographical area.
For the duration of the Armadale project the netting station will be operated for scientific purposes with up to 750 salmon tagged and released. The tagging is due to start on the 26th June; a bit late for the Spey as a high proportion of our fish will already be in the river, but timing of these projects are often controlled by external factors and some information is better than none. The fish will be externally tagged with small acoustic tags which emit unique coded signals that can be picked up by receivers. We are assisting Marine Scotland by placing two receivers in the lower river for the duration of the project. These receivers should pick up the signal emitted by any salmon entering the Spey. Virtually all the significant salmon rivers in Scotland will have receivers close to their mouth so it should be possible to learn a great deal about the subsequent movement of salmon from this netting station.
The tags look like this:
We have been asked by Marine Scotland Science to publicise the following:
Armadale tracking project
Marine Scotland is tracking salmon from July 2017 and would like your help.
If you catch a salmon with a tag (as shown in the attached photograph) near the dorsal fin, then please remove it by cutting through the plastic cord to remove the acoustic tag (black cylinder). Please note that the colour of the cord may vary from yellow.
Please send the acoustic tag, also with a note of day and location of capture, to:
Armadale Tracking, Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory, Faskally, Pitlochry, PH16 5LB
Please enclose your name, postal and email (if applicable) address and we will send you £20 in reward.
If you have any other information about the fish (eg a photo, length, sex) then please include it when you send in the tag. However, please do not delay the safe return of the fish to the water to obtain any such information.
The Armadale Tracking Team”
In addition to data on the movements of salmon from Armadale other information such as migration speeds, survival, straying into non-natal rivers and, potentially, exploitation rates may be obtained. This is an interesting project and we would ask ghillies and anglers to spread the word that there is a nationwide tagging programme underway. We would anticipate that a reasonable proportion of the tagged fish would run the Spey although this needs to be qualified with the comment above about the current timing of the Spey run and the timing of this project.