New plan launched for River Ythan

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FORMARTINE residents are being invited to view the new Ythan Fishery Management Plan, which sets out priorities and strategies for the management of the region’s largest waterway.

The plan, available at - sets out the Trust’s aims and objectives for maintaining an optimal habitat for the fish species known to inhabit the Ythan - most notably Sea Trout and Salmon.

Spokesman for the Trust, Alec Paterson, told the Times that the document was an effective list of actions which would have to be taken to make the Ythan a more friendly habitat - not only to fish, but to other wildlife native to the area.

“The main thing the Trust does is to try and improve the habitat of the river in general,” he said. “Sea Trout in particular have declined noticeably over the past forty years, for a number of reasons. A lot of these reasons relate to changes at sea, but what we can do is make sure that we create as optimal a river environment as possible for Sea Trout smolts. Improving the river will bring significant advantages, not only to those who fish in the Ythan, but to the local economy as a whole.”

He explained that the Trust had been set up under government direction with the aim of publicising the management of the river to a wider audience, and working in a joined-up fashion to improve Scotland’s rivers. The trusts, which have been set up across the whole of Scotland, will have effective responsibility for improving the environment and will be working with SEPA, the Scottish government and the EU to improve the region’s rivers.

“Part of the problem affecting Scottish rivers is the fact that successive governments have demanded that farmers produce more and more food, with more and more chemicals,” Mr Paterson told the Times. “There are plants in the Ythan these days which would never have survived forty years ago. “All rivers have suffered degradation of habitat over the past 60 years, and this is largely due to changes in agriculture. The Ythan Project which ran over 2001-05 did a lot of work to identify problems on the river, and one of the ways we have attempted to tackle the problem of nutrient contamination is by encouraging farmers near the Ythan to leave areas of land uncultivated between crops and the river, which act as buffer zones absorbing the polluting nutrients.”

He pointed out that the Trust’s most high-profile work would relate to the fish of the river, however he added that the management plan included detail on all aspects of the river environment, including the wildlife in the region.

“The Ythan has one of the only catchment areas in Scotland which is virtually free of mink, for example, and there are links to information on that project on our website. Mink are a hugely destructive, invasive species, and there’s currently a dedicated mink control officer working in the north-east to make sure that they don’t come back to the Ythan from other river areas. Improvements such as this make the Ythan a better habitat for both wildlife, and humans.”