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Rescue operation after River Ness fish endangered by low water levels

By Neil MacPhail

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The rescue mission at the Mill Lade.
The rescue mission at the Mill Lade.

A sudden drop in water levels on the River Ness is endangering numerous species of fish, eels, lampreys and invertebrates.

Members of Inverness Angling Club joined a team from the Ness District Salmon Fishery Board on Monday to rescue fish affected by the sudden drop which had caused nursery areas like the Mill Lade to dry up.

Club president Bill Byers said he understood that the low flows in the River Ness were the result of adjustments to the sluices at the Dochfour Weir. These were installed to compensate for the operations of the Foyers pump storage hydro scheme which extracts water from Loch Ness to generate power.

“Adjustments to the Dochfour sluices are the responsibility of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE),” said Mr Byers. “They need to ensure that the River Ness gets a decent level of compensation water to maintain fish stocks which are already at critically low levels.

“Monday’s efforts resulted in a good number of fish being rescued and transferred to the river. Sadly, however, we could not save all.”

He added that SSE have denied being responsible for the sudden drop in the river water level of 4in to 5in in only two hours recently.

Mr Byers said that salmon and trout parr were among the fish rescued.

"This is the time of year that the salmon are running so the low water is going to have a huge impact on the fishing," said Mr Byers.

Several members of the club and Brian Shaw chief executive of the Ness District Salmon Fishery Board used electro fishing equipment to stun the trapped fish and remove them from pools in the lade and return them to the river.

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