October 6, 2008

Scientists Baffled By Sea Trout Population Collapse

News in brief

ENVIRONMENT The collapse of sea trout numbers in the British Isles has left scientists baffled as to the cause, with hauls in Scotland at a 50-year low. Last year, catches on the river Spey, the largest river on the Moray Firth system in north-east Scotland, fell by 52 per cent. This year numbers are expected to be even worse. On the river Dee take rates are 46 per cent down while the river Ness has seen catches slump 10-fold since the 1990s. In Wales, experts say the size of the fish has been steadily declining for the past five years. The east coast of Scotland, unlike the west coast, is virtually fish farm free and commercial netting activities have been massively reduced, yet numbers still appear to be in free fall. "The fall in sea trout numbers is one of the great fishing mysteries of our time," said Marcus Walters, who runs the Moray Firth Sea Trout Project, a major collaborative effort by conservation and angling groups to understand the problem. "It has been bad for 10 years but the last three years have been particularly worrying."

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