River Spey Open Meeting in Aberlour

Jock RoyanJock Royan shares with us a brief update on the recent River Spey Open Meeting in Aberlour. The meeting was well attended and as well as results from the Genetic Study & Juvenile Studies, presented by our biologist Brian Shaw, Dr Phil McGinnity gave his interpretation on the positive and negative impacts of hatchery reared fish.

The Genetic Study proved that the hatchery had not contributed much in terms of increasing the River Speys Salmon population, however when questioned whether these figures had been influenced by the stocking policy between 2004 and 2010, such was the body swerve that even Jeremy Paxman would have struggled to get an answer.

The stocking policy can be viewed by clicking on this link http://www.speyfisheryboard.com/sfb-publications/and downloading the Annual reports, looking closely at the Management Reports. Alternatively, I’m sure the research office has hard copies available for those without computers. The stocking policy would be especially interesting for anyone involved in a peer review of the study, purely as background information. As an example, I cannot recollect at first hand how much water is abstracted above the Spey Dam but believe the figure to be very high. This being the case, it would be fair to say that a large percentage of the 1.7 million fry stocked above the Dam between 2004 & 2010 had very little chance of survival and if they did survive, are probably now in a different river system!

Dr McGinnity presentation was very interesting. He suggested that the actual genetic make up of salmon reared in a hatchery environment changes during their few months in “captivity”. Whilst this may be the case, surely when released into the wild, their genetic make up will continue to develop and change as they mature and adapt to differing environments. As I said recently, if I had married a Chinese girl, our children would be markedly different to my current pair, however they would have survived, even if they had been fed at McDonalds in their early years! I am completely unconvinced by this entire genetic argument and believe instead that nature is simply a case of continual adaptation. The entire genetic subject has so many grey areas that it does nothing but create 2 entirely different camps. Those who believe it to be worthwhile and money well spent and those who don’t. I believe the meeting proved that amongst fishermen there are more in the latter bracket.

Over the years, the Spey Research Trust, now renamed as the Spey Foundation, have made recommendations to The Spey Board based upon such information but thankfully, all final decision have to be ratified at Board level. Although the Foundation is strictly a scientific body, I believe that in the future, especially under new leadership, the Board will rely more upon a combination of practical experience in conjunction with scientific evidence, rather than leaning more toward one than the other.

To read more please click the following link to Jocks website

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