For the first time in over 100 years, a team of fisheries experts has teamed up with a Speyside whisky distillery to offer a helping hand to migrating fish in the Knockando Burn near Aberlour.
Biologists from the Spey Fishery Board and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have teamed up with Tamdhu to build one of the UK’s longest and highest fish passes on the doorstep of the distillery.
The 4.5 metre high, 16 metre long man-made construction is now allowing salmon and sea trout to breed in a 2.3 mile stretch of the Knockando Burn that has been inaccessible since Victorian times.
When the Tamdhu distillery was built 120 years ago, a dam was built on the neighbouring river to allow easy access to the water for the whisky making process. The dam also meant that fish have been prevented from moving up the Knockando Burn and spawning until now.
Installing the new Tamdhu Fish Pass is the most practical way for wildlife experts to help sea trout and salmon move upstream to breed. A special fish counter and camera on the fish pass will also enable the team to record and monitor fish numbers and activity in Knockando Burn when breeding season begins in September.
Tamdhu Distillery Manager, Sandy McIntyre, helped lead the Tamdhu Fish Pass Project. He said: “We’re really excited to be working in partnership on this essential environmental project at the Tamdhu Distillery, which will see fish return to this section of the Knockando Burn for the first time in over 100 years.
“Water from the river has been used in the Tamdhu production process since we were established in 1897, so we’re proud to be giving something back.
“Located on the Speyside Way, Tamdhu is committed to protecting and enhancing its natural environment for the benefit of wildlife, anglers and the local tourism economy. We look forward to seeing the positive benefits of the Tamdhu Fish Pass Project in the coming months and are hugely grateful to all our partners for helping to make it happen.”
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is improving the River Spey and Knockando Burn for wildlife by implementing new river basin management plans. The target date for reopening this section of the Knockando Burn to migrating fish was 2027 but the Tamdhu Fish Pass Project has allowed this to be completed nine years early.
Lisa Forsyth, from SEPA’s North Grampian and Speyside team, said: “The new fish pass at Tamdhu is a fantastic achievement for the ecology of the Knockando Burn which has been impacted by a 4.5 metre high weir for over 100 years.
“Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment, and we’re committed to working with operators to help them go beyond compliance. The Tamdhu Fish Pass Project is a great example of an operator taking voluntary action and working in partnership to help improve the status of a waterbody. We hope this will see salmon and sea trout return to a significant stretch of the Knockando Burn soon.”
Commenting on the Tamdhu Fish Pass Project, Brian Shaw, Biologist for Spey Fishery Board, said: “This has been one of the most significant barriers to migratory fish passage in the whole of the Spey catchment for the last century. We’re delighted to see that this has now been rectified. It is a significant achievement and we’re most grateful to Tamdhu for all of their efforts, as well as their enthusiasm, for installing the fish pass and other equipment. We now look forward to monitoring the number of fish that use it and to continuing to work closely with Tamdhu as we do so.”
The new Tamdhu Fish Pass was designed by EnviroCentre. The project was delivered in partnership with the Knockando Estate, SEPA, Spey Fishery Board, Aberlour Engineering and Kevin Rattray of JS & R Rattray & Sons of Knockando as the contractor.
For more information on Tamdhu, visit www.tamdhu.com
Notes to Editors:
Tamdhu Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Tamdhu is owned by one of Scotland’s leading, independent family-owned distillers, Ian Macleod Distillers and was born on the banks of the River Spey in 1897. Its quality is defined by the hint of peat in its malted barley, the natural Speyside water that is drawn directly from the Tamdhu spring and most importantly the 100% exclusive use of only the finest Spanish Olorosso sherry oak casks for the richest taste and deep natural colour.
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
SEPA is Scotland’s principal environmental regulator, protecting and improving Scotland’s environment. SEPA’s role is to make sure that the environment and human health are protected, to ensure that Scotland’s natural resources and services are used as sustainably as possible and contribute to sustainable economic growth. www.sepa.org.uk
Spey Fishery Board
The Spey Fishery Board was established under the 1862 and 1868 Salmon Fisheries legislation. This was subsequently amended and presently stated in the Salmon Act 1986 and the Salmon Conservation (Scotland) Act 2001. This legislation has more recently been amalgamated under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003. There are 42 District Salmon Fishery Boards around Scotland, of which the Spey Fishery Board is considered to be one of the “Big Four”, alongside the Tweed Commission and the Dee and Tay District Salmon Fishery Boards. The Board is empowered under the legislation to take such acts as it considers expedient for the protection, enhancement and conservation of Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout stocks and their fisheries.
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