Page last updated at 06:29 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 07:29 UK

3m scheme boosts salmon habitats

Atlantic salmon (picture: Nature Picture Library)
Eight rivers that are popular with Atlantic salmon were targeted

A 3m conservation project is improving habitats for Atlantic salmon in rivers in Scotland, a conference has heard.

The Conservation of Atlantic Salmon in Scotland (Cass) initiative deals with threats in eight rivers, including the Tay, Tweed, Dee, Spey and South Esk.

Those involved claim it has boosted fish access, restocked restored areas with local wild salmon and stopped commercial netting on certain rivers.

The project started in 2004 and is due to be completed in July.

About 90 delegates are attending the conference at Redgorton in Perthshire to hear about the outcome of the Cass scheme.

The gathering was opened by Environment Minister Mike Russell.

He said: "Biodiversity surrounds us everywhere we go. In Scotland, it is one of our country's most valuable assets and the Atlantic salmon truly is an iconic component of that.

"Scotland is a European stronghold for the Atlantic salmon. Our great salmon rivers rank amongst the very finest and make a very significant contribution to the social, economic and environmental make-up of Scotland.

The salmon's value as a barometer of the health of the environment is well recognized
Colin Galbraith
Scottish Natural Heritage

"The conservation of this species and the habitats which support it remains a constant objective for all who recognise its status."

The other rivers involved in the Cass project are the Oykel, Bladnoch and Moriston.

The scheme has also seen grazing controlled to protect river banks, a bigger variety of plants encouraged along the waters and projects to improve awareness among school pupils and the public.

Colin Galbraith, from Scottish Natural Heritage, said: "The condition of Scotland's rivers is a key influence on the future prospects of Scotland's native salmon.

"These salmon rivers, amongst the finest in the world, are also vitally important natural habitats for many other important members of the Scottish flora and fauna.

"The salmon's value as a barometer of the health of the environment is well recognized and we will be using what we have learnt from this programme to further protect and conserve Scotland's freshwater ecosystems which are such a distinctive part of Scotland's landscape"

Salmon have it large in the Tay
20 May 08 |  Tayside and Central
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06 May 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Salmon parasite river 'cull' plan
14 Apr 08 |  Scotland
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26 Feb 08 |  South of Scotland
Fishy project for school pupils
21 Feb 08 |  Tayside and Central

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