Global drinks giant Diageo has completed a three-year project to help boost fish stocks on Speyside.
The distillers have installed a new weir and fish pass in the River Dullan near Dufftown to help spawning trout and salmon on their journey upstream.
The £550,000 investment, which was built in collaboration with the Spey Fishery Board, replaces an outdated and damaged obstacle that was believed to be hampering progress for fish.
Fears about declining Speyside fish stocks
Concerns have been raised for years about reducing numbers of salmon and trout returning to breeding grounds upstream with fears manmade barriers could be one of numerous potential reasons for the decline.
Diageo, which uses water from the River Dullan at its Mortlach and Dufftown distilleries for cooling, hopes the project will boost fish stocks and biodiversity across Speyside.
Environment manager Lee Oliver said: “The design of the new fish pass is a vast improvement on the old, damaged weir and takes into account free passage for all fish species as well as different flow conditions.
“We have worked closely with the Spey Fishery Board to develop a weir system that will benefit all river users and in turn the local community.”
The Dufftown project took about three and a half years to complete from the design phase to construction.
A smaller project has also been recently completed at the Linkwood Burn, near Elgin’s Linkwood Distillery.
More Diageo projects to help fish
In addition to its work on Speyside, Diageo is also due to make similar improvements at its Glen Ord Distillery near Inverness to support fish stocks.
Brian Shaw, senior biologist at the Spey Fishery Board, explained the work in Dufftown had already resulted in improvements.
He said: “We like it. More importantly, so do the fish. The number of spawning redds counted above the weir last autumn was the highest we have recorded.
“The fish pass allows a range of species to migrate upstream, and downstream, including eels and represents the ‘gold standard’ for fish passage in the catchment.
“We look forward to the Dullan Water fulfilling its potential to become one of the most productive rivers in the Spey catchment.”