Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Plans to protect freshwater fish

Atlantic salmon (picture: Nature Picture Library)
The plans aim to improve the environment where the fish live

Plans to protect and conserve Scotland's freshwater fisheries have been launched.

The Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (Rafts) said the plans set out a programme of action at a local level.

They include ways of improving habitats for fish and working with farmers, water and power firms whose industries may affect the health of rivers.

Rafts believes the plans will help ensure that Scotland's fisheries remain the envy of those across the globe.

The charity said the proposals would help protect and improve stocks of different species of fish.

Rafts has 22 fishery trust members covering more than 90% of the country, and is currently engaged in about 70 projects including habitat restoration, rare species reintroduction, dealing with pollution and woodland management.

It received 400,000 of public money last year for its work, and that funding will continue for a further two years.

Fishery management plans begin with biologists and river managers working on waters at a local level
Roger Brook

Callum Sinclair, director of Rafts, commented: "There can be no doubt that with delivery of these plans, Scotland is better placed than it has ever been to adopt better management to protect, improve and develop our fisheries.

"The government's support for Rafts and its members is now being justified. We have used the first year's 400,000 of public funding as seed corn money. Through additional in kind and cash contributions from the private sector we have quadrupled it to over 1.6m.

"Our focus continues to be delivering practical improvement action across Scotland that will help to ensure that our fish and fisheries remain the envy of others across the world.

"Our members are at the cutting edge of fisheries management and science."

The Rafts annual conference takes place at Battleby, by Perth, on Wednesday.

It will be opened by Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead, who said: "I am delighted to see that Rafts have delivered such a comprehensive set of management plans which will take Scotland's freshwater fisheries to the next level."

Roger Brook, chairman of Rafts, added: "This is an innovative example of government supporting a grass-roots approach to a national issue.

"Fishery management plans begin with biologists and river managers working on waters at a local level and developing plans for protecting and enhancing those waters, habitats and fish.

"These local plans have now come to fruition, effectively covering the nation and we are already seeing a wide range of implementation projects being delivered by our members."

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