A ground-breaking project to track the “mysterious” migration routes of fish from three of the north-east’s rivers is now underway.
Young salmon and sea trout leaving the Dee, Don and Ythan rivers this spring will be tagged and tracked for the next three years by the River Dee Trust after £1million of funding was secured for the task.
Working in partnership with Marine Scotland Science the trust received part of the funding from Vattenfall, owners of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC), which will be based near Blackdog.
The project involves fitting 300 juvenile salmon and 100 sea trout migrants with acoustic tags as they exit the rivers and navigate out to sea.
River Dee Trust manager Lorraine Hawkins explained that they had “very little” information about the routes the fish take to get to their feeding grounds, adding: “Most of the ocean tracking studies undertaken on salmon show their ultimate destination – for example, feeding grounds around the Faroe Islands and southern Greenland – but not the migration routes they take to get there.
“It’s a mystery that requires solving, as marine survival of salmon is very low – in the order of 5%, compared to historical survival of about 40% – and the greatest losses happen early on in their ocean journey. The aim is that from learning their migration routes, this will show where and why salmon are dying at sea.”