Project with Centre 81

The purpose of our Garelochhead project is to engage with young people from Garelochhead and Helensburgh, providing them with practical workshops on fisheries management, bankside strengthening, and tree planting. We also aim to stimulate an interest in aquatic conservation of Scotland’s native fish species and showcase how salmonid industries throughout Scotland work together to better our understanding of salmonid populations.

We hope to engage the children in helping to leave a legacy of improved riparian and instream habitat for trout in the McAuley burn. The McAuley burn is in need of bank stabilisation and tree planting, to slow erosion and to provide cover for fish populations. These are goals we aim to complete while engaging young people in our efforts.  Another bonus is that the work the youth group is helping us to complete will provide them with their volunteer hours required to achieve their Saltire award!

Our first session with the group included electrofishing demonstrations, fish processing and handling, kick-sampling demonstrations, and invertebrate sampling.

Jay and Megan took the lead on electrofishing, with our biologist Nick teaching them how to process the fish and record data bankside. We taught them how to ID fish species, their life stages, and the issues they are facing. The group were naturals at holding the fish correctly and safely, ensuring no harm was caused to them. We saw plenty of conservationists in the making! During our electrofishing we caught trout, eels, and even a flounder which is the first one we’ve caught this year!

Fergus and Tom took the lead on our invertebrate sampling, they got into the river to kick sample and then brought the samples to the bankside. They taught the group how to identify different species, how they can tell us about water quality, and how they are important components of fish diets. Although we didn’t get much invertebrate diversity, the group found the abundance of freshwater shrimp and cased caddis really cool!

We can’t wait for the next sessions!