The River Carron Restoration Project, one of Inverness College UHI’s most high-profile research projects, has enjoyed its first success as new figures reveal the project is making a positive impact on the river.

Meanwhile, in a bid to enhance the investigation further, the River Carron Project has recently recruited new Freshwater Fisheries Biologist, Jonah Tosney, who will assist with the ongoing research into the salmon and trout populations in the river.

Established in August 2009, the River Carron Restoration Project is investigating the reasons for the decline and subsequent recovery of Atlantic salmon and sea trout in the River Carron, located in Wester Ross on the West coast of Scotland.

The project is focused on the long-standing work of freshwater fisheries expert Bob Kindness, who, in 1995, began working on a salmon and sea trout reintroduction programme aimed at increasing the population of North Atlantic salmon and sea trout in the river.

Already, the project has seen five million salmon and sea trout at various life stages released into the river. As part of the initiative a strict catch and release policy is in operation, allowing inspection and measurement of all caught fish. The team have tracked the progress of over 100,000 fish, with 25,000 spring smolts tagged and fin-clipped in order to determine their success.

Thus far, the team have discovered a series of benefits to the restocking programme, including a great increase in rod catches of both salmon and sea trout, which have improved significantly since 2001 when only six fish were caught throughout the season. Other findings show a significant increase in the number of fish spawning in the river itself.

Jonah, who is employed jointly by Inverness College UHI and project partner Wester Ross Fisheries Trust, arrived in December and immediately began work keeping the fish hatcheries free of ice during the big freeze. Assisting Bob Kindness with the stocking of salmon and trout into the river, Jonah will also work with Dr. Melanie Smith and other project partners on the recovery of fish stock research.

He commented: “Working on the River Carron project in conjunction with Inverness College UHI was a dream job for me. I feel really lucky to be involved.

“Since I got involved with the project, I have been involved in various parts of the project, including stocking fish in the river and the research element which looks at why the river has revived.

“I thoroughly enjoy working with Bob, it’s an absolute privilege. I am learning a lot from him and am picking up tips and information from him all the time.

The restocking project has also benefitted the area, with an increase in the number of visitors to the river courtesy of reduced rate day tickets, while the biodiversity of the catchment is benefitting both in and out of the water.

It is hoped the project can provide a model for action on similarly affected rivers.