While the Board actively encourage landowners/operators to maintain their assets on the rivers within the catchment, it is not the DSFB’s responsibility to clear fish passes for them. Indeed the Board doesn’t empoly staff capable of doing so. The Board however, being a statutory body can pursue landowners that fail to manage and maintain fish passage in artificial structures or provide fish passage if weirs exceed 1m in height. Performing the necessary maintenance when it is required and safe to do so, is essential for migratory species and their future success.
Where things become difficult are in cases when ownership is unknown or disputed. An example of this is at the Ochiltree Weir and fish pass. The owners are unknown to SEPA and the DSFB despite efforts to trace them. Consequently maintenance of the fish pass falls to whoever is willing to do it.
Ayrshire Rivers Trust staff today cleared the fish pass at Ochiltree as it had been blocked for some time preventing any salmon passage through the structure. Of course some fish make it over the dam face but this is less than ideal so ART staff decided to cut a large tree stump from the entrance to the ladder before the river came back into spate this afternoon. In a rising water, ART managed to saw through the tree stump releasing it from the entrance and allowing it to continue downstream. It was too heavy to remove manually.
On the horizon are long awaited improvements to the Catrine Salmon ladder where Catrine Community Renewables will soon cut the end wall of the ladder to allow a more direct access into the structure and at the same time they will build up the existing entrance to prevent flow escaping across the face of the weir. This should soon improve the rate at which salmon move through this section of river at Catrine. While long await and somewhat overdue, it will be much appreciated.