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Fishing season opens in 'International year of the Salmon'.

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This month we hear about how the organisations within the Partnership are working to protect an important local species, in 2019, the International Year of the Salmon.

Fishing Season Opens in Year of the Salmon

The River Dee was officially opened for the fishing season this month. Crowds gathered in freshly fallen snow on the banks of the Dee by Banchory Lodge, as former Scotland rugby captain, Rob Wainwright, made the traditional blessing of the river with a dram before casting the first fly.

The annual event is organised and funded by the Fishery Board. A celebration of the Dee and its international appeal as one of the world’s finest salmon fishing rivers, it is also an acknowledgment of the catchment conservation efforts involved in protecting this iconic species. Proprietors, ghillies, farmers and conservationists alike are brought together through this important shared goal.

It’s a key focus for the organisations that make up the Dee Catchment Partnership, as Manager for the Partnership, Susan Cooksley, explains: “In addition to their economic importance, salmon are a sensitive indicator of the river’s health. All of our partners’  projects are beneficial to the fish populations in some way, either directly by improving habitats and opening up access for migration, or indirectly, by regulating flows, reducing pollution and raising awareness of their role as part of a healthy river system.”

Isla Martin is Operations Officer for Scottish Natural Heritage, a partner with many projects in the Dee catchment. “The presence of salmon is one of the reasons the river is designated a Special Area of Conservation. Salmon are extremely important to the wider ecology of the river. A prime example is the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel, the survival of which depends on salmon. As larvae, they latch onto the gills of a passing salmon or trout – and only around one in four million makes it to adulthood.”

Lorraine Hawkins is Director of the River Dee Trust and Board, both of which are involved in the Partnership. She sees a collaborative approach as being key: “Partnership projects benefit the whole catchment, and so are integral to our work to create a catchment that supports a strongly recovering salmonid population and thriving fishery.”

It’s hoped that a new publicity campaign will help. 2019 is the 'International Year of the Salmon', a unique initiative which aims to bring people together to share and develop knowledge, raise awareness, and take action to tackle the environmental and man-made challenges faced by salmon.

Lorraine continues: “Lorraine continues: “This initiative is great news for the Dee because it’s raising awareness of what people can do to ensure salmon and their habitats are conserved and restored. We have a number of major restoration projects planned for this year, and will certainly be using the IYS to publicise these, which will hopefully bring an extra level of attention and interest to the plight of the wild Atlantic salmon.”

You can find out more about the fascinating life cycle of the salmon at and work involved in protecting them in the Dee and Don by visiting the River Dee Trust’s website and the International Year of the Salmon by visiting



Suggested photo caption: Fishing season on the Dee was declared officially open on the first of the month, as former Scotland rugby captain, Rob Wainwright, cast the first fly on the Dee in Banchory.

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