Letter | Published:

Cultivation of Salmon Rivers

Naturevolume 30page146 (1884) | Download Citation



I HOPE we may assume, from the paragraph which appears among the “Notes” in your issue of last Thursday (p. 129), that the Fishery Board for Scotland is about to take some active course towards the removal of obstructions to the ascent of salmon up Scottish rivers. When you say the Board “is specially desirous to introduce as soon as possible a fishway at the falls, and this, when done, would open up some 500 miles of excellent fishing and spawning ground,” I hardly think you can be alluding to any one particular river. Am I correct in supposing you refer to the aggregate mileage of rivers in Scotland now closed by natural obstructions, i.e. waterfalls? The Report of the Special Commission to inquire into the condition of the salmon fisheries of Scotland, published in 1871, informed us that the River Tay alone had some 115 miles of river blocked against the salmon by the two natural obstructions of the Tummel Falls and the Falls of Garry on the two important Tay tributaries from which the respective waterfalls are named. If your “Note” meant to include the entire mileage of Scottish rivers seriously affected by artificial dams of a more or less obstructive character (and their name is legion in Scotland), as well as by the natural barriers that occur, I think 500 miles of obstructed fishing and spawning ground is far too low an estimate; it might in fact, I should say, be multiplied at the very least by three. Now that theoretical playthings are being laid aside, and in their place appears a prospect of a more sound, natural, and scientific basis being made the foundation of our future salmon cultivation, the absolute necessity of opening up the natural breeding-beds of the fish will, it is hoped, become patent to every one, and the dream of my old friend the late William J. Ffennel, the father, so to speak, of our modern salmon fishery legislation and salmon river cultivation may at last be realised. “If I live,” he said to me one day (I hardly care to remember how long ago it was, or how soon after he was taken from us), “I shall never rest until every weir and mill-dam in the three countries—England, Ireland, and Scotland—has a thoroughly good and permanent salmon ladder built upon it, or into it, or around it. We have shown we can restore the fisheries; we must now restore the rivers. That, sir, is the true position to take up, and that must be our next aim.” Had Mr. Ffennel lived, river restoration would probably have progressed more than it has during the last decade.

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