ASFB reaction to Scotsman report on Beavers and fish

In response to a recent article in the Scotsman, Alan Wells, Policy and Planning Director of ASFB made the following comments:

Your report “Beleaguered beavers are fishermen’s friend, claim scientists” (10 August) is based on research that has very little relevance to Scotland. The Southampton University review of 108 articles “containing information on the interactions between beavers and fish” concedes that they include just nine that were “based on European experience”.

Indeed there is very little direct information on the effects of European beaver on any freshwater fish species. This is particularly true of Atlantic salmon and the current beaver trial in Argyll will not add to our knowledge as it is in an area without a salmon population. Furthermore experience from other European reintroductions has demonstrated that the timescale over which negative interactions might be expected may run into decades and therefore the relatively short duration of the trial would not pick up many of the expected effects.

Beaver ponds may provide rearing habitat for some juvenile fish but this appears not to be the case for juvenile salmon. Indeed, the conversion of shallow, fast-flowing water to slower, deeper water by beaver dams reduces the amount of habitat for juvenile salmon and increases that for non-native, predatory species such as pike.

Over the last decade District Salmon Fishery Boards and Fishery Trusts have spent a great deal of time, money and effort removing barriers within river systems to maximise upstream access for adult salmon to spawning areas. Accordingly we view the prospect of the reintroduction of an animal, which actually creates barriers to migration, with considerable concern.

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