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New by-law will protect vulnerable apex predators in Scotland

New research conducted by Dr Hughes, to be published by the journal Ecology of Freshwater Fish in 2018, has resulted in the introduction of a new by-law in Loch Awe. The new law will come into effect in 2019 and requires anglers to return any brown trout Salmo trutta caught over 360mm. The law was passed my members of the Loch Awe Improvement Association.

Alan Kettle-White from the Argyll Fisheries Trust who spearheaded the change and has been an advocate for ferox angling and research for almost twenty years said “The rules of the Association under the Protection Order means it cannot come into force until start of the 2019 season after the proposal was passed by LAIA members at their Annual General Meeting. The by-law should mean that the small population is protected from over-exploitation as the number of breeding fish may be relatively low in any one year (as we know they don't spawn each year). I am cautiously optimistic about the future of ferox in Loch Awe in the near future, but in the future we will need to pin-point spawning and recruitment habitats to protect / restore where necessary. Climate change in the longer-term may be an issue for principle prey species such as the Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus. Tagging data show all ferox populations are relatively small and vulnerable to over-exploitation, where ferox populations can be shown to be distinct from the benthivorous trout. Thanks need to go to researchers from the University of Glasgow, the Argyll Fisheries Trust and the Ferox 85 group who sponsored some of the work; Dave Greenwood and Aya Thorne and of course the Loch Awe Improvement Association members for listening and acting on the scientific information.”

Read the CSU media release here

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