Culter dam fish pass

76 miles of habitat have been opened up for salmon and sea trout on the River Dee with the completion of a fish pass on the Culter Dam at Peterculter, the largest man-made obstruction on the River Dee. For over 200 years the dam has prevented fish from accessing the Culter Burn, which is the second largest tributary of the Dee. The work on the Culter Dam was delivered by the River Dee Trust with technical support from the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board.  

The fish pass on the Culter Dam will allow migratory salmon and sea trout to re-establish natural populations upstream. It will also kick start further habitat restoration work in the Culter Burn which will provide enhanced habitat for freshwater pearl mussels, otter and a list of other species. Once restoration work is completed the Culter is expected to create an additional 1,500 salmon returning to the River each year.

Culter Dam is the first and most important step in removing a total of four obstructions and re-establishing natural habitat of the Culter catchment. Weirs further upstream, on the Loch of Skene and Waterton Loch were also barriers to migratory fish until a fish pass was installed at the outflow of Loch of Skene, whilst work at Waterton Loch involved the creation of a 40m bypass channel for fish to travel upstream of the dam. Fish passes on the Loch of Skene and Waterton Loch have been supported by SEPA's Water Environment Fund and with the support of Dunecht Estate.

To monitor the success of the Culter Dam fish pass, a Vaki fish counter is installed to record how many fish are using the pass to ascend the dam. The counter records the length of each fish which indicates whether it is a salmon or brown or sea trout.

The removal of obstacles such as Culter is part of a long term strategy of the River Dee Trust  and Dee District Salmon Fishery Board to open up habitat and restore the Dee. Since 2007 the two organisations have removed or eased 27 man-made structures from the River Dee's tributaries. The aim of this work is simple: To allow fish to gain access to their natural spawning and rearing grounds.

More information and updates on numbers of fish using the fish pass, can be found here