23 May 2014
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As part of World Fish Migration Day 2014, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is highlighting the importance of work to remove historic barriers from rivers and lochs which impact on Scotland’s migrating fish populations.
Since 2008, SEPA has made almost £8 million of funding available through the Water Environment Fund to help a range of community groups, fisheries trusts and environmental charities clear redundant man-made barriers including weirs, culverts and dams. This has been successful in removing 14 obstructions and restoring access for fish to over 3000km of Scotland’s watercourses.
For fish such as Atlantic salmon, sea trout and lampreys, free passage between the ocean and freshwater environments is an essential part of their lifecycle for breeding and spawning. Removing obstacles which block these migration routes therefore helps the recovery of damaged fish stocks, while also preserving the natural ecology of Scotland’s watercourses.
Calum MacDonald, Executive Director for SEPA, said:
The removal of barriers to fish migration brings huge benefits to our water environment as well as economic and social benefits.
We have put significant effort into ensuring that the Water Environment Fund is effectively deployed over the past year and we look forward to expanding this rewarding work in the future.” As environmental regulator, SEPA also works with operators to enabling fish access through barriers in current use, such as those used for hydroelectricity and water supply. SEPA also seeks to ensure that any new developments do not compromise the free movement of migrating fish.
Rob Mitchell, Project Management Officer for the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland, said:
The excellent work which has already been achieved to remove the barriers in our rivers and lochs will help improve and increase fish migration in Scotland, bringing benefits for fish, anglers, and local communities.”
The Water Environment Fund is a government financed initiative administered by SEPA. The Fund accepts applications from projects which will make improvements to waters impacted by historic structures and engineering works, to deliver River Basin Management Planning targets. The next deadline for applications to the Water Environment Fund is October 7, 2014.
Notes to editors
• For more information regarding World Fish Migration Day 2014 - www.worldfishmigrationday.com
• The Water Environment Fund (WEF)
The Water Environment Fund provides grants to projects which will restore the physical damage to our rivers caused by historic industrial and agricultural activity. The WEF unit is a diverse team distributed across Scotland, with specialists dedicated to supporting and advising individual projects. They provide guidance and technical support to applicants throughout the project process from application to scoping, physical works and final assessment of improvements secured.
For further information on funding rules and deadlines, check our website.