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Painting a picture of Spey’s salmon challenge

Brian Doran
Brian Doran

With numbers of salmon caught on the River Spey continuing to decline dramatically an original approach to highlighting the issue is being adopte01

The Spey Fishery Board has teamed up with the Still Life Gallery in Aberlour to present an exhibition of art works connected to the river.

The exhibition, which will run until the end of next month, aims to raise public awareness of the problem by also including regular talks from board members.

The board’s chairman Brian Doran said: “Anglers are already very aware of the issues. However, we want to explain them to people who might never have picked up a rod.

“We also aim to spread the word about the work the board is doing to try improve matters.”

Across the past decade the average number of salmon caught on the River Spey numbered 9,300.

Last year, however, the figure plummeted to 5,760, while early predictions for this suggest a further steep decline to 3,000.

Mr Doran said: “The Spey is the most iconic river for salmon fishing on the planet.

“Anglers can travel to Russia, Norway and all over the world, but a Spey salmon is the one that everybody is after.

“However, visitors are not going to continue to come back if salmon numbers continue to decline.

“Salmon fishing brings in an estimated £15million to the local economy and directly employs 370 people – and that doesn’t include all the hotels, taxi drivers, bars that also benefit.

“The Spey Fishery Board does what it can to monitor both the health of the fish and the river, and to clear it of obstacles that might prevent them reaching their spawning grounds.

“However, the more public support we can get the better. What happens in the river has huge ramifications for the local economy.”

The reasons for the current decline in Atlantic salmon numbers, both locally and on a global level, are numerous as well as disputed.

Global warming, pollution, coastal netting and the amount of water diverted from the Spey for hydro-electrical power are all sited as contributory factors.

In addition, increasing demand for water from an ever-growing population has been cited as a reason for the Spey’s low water levels, which have a knock-on effect.

Still Life is open 10am-5pm, Mondays to Saturdays. The exhibition features works by some of Scotland’s best known wildlife artists, including David Miller and Chris Sharp.

Talks will be given each Wednesday from 5-8pm.

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