One of the key aims of the Moray Firth Trout Initiative (MFTI), to which the Ness and Beauly Fisheries Trust is a partner, is to learn more about our local sea trout populations and how they use the marine environment and in particular the Inner Firths. To achieve this, the MFTI is conducting a series of coastal seine netting trials to catch sea trout and collect length data, scales and conduct sea lice counts.
Setting the net in the Beauly Firth
Hauling the net after a successful shot
Reading the scales we can learn how old the fish are, when they smolted, how long they have been at sea and if they have spawned before. We can then compare this information with historical collections and analysis conducted by G.H Nall for the Fishery Board for Scotland in 1929. The length of the fish at any given age can provide us with a growth rate and an indication of food availability.
Processing the catch following a successful shot of the net
A fine example of a sea trout with sea lice on its lower flank and tail
Conducting sea lice counts on all trout caught helps us monitor the presence of this marine parasite in our coastal waters. The MFTI are currently trialling different methods and sites so if you are interested in helping please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
During our sea trout netting operations we capture a range of other species of fish which are also recorded. A few examples are provided below.
One of many sprat recorded during the survey, an excellent food source for sea trout
One of a number of saithe captured during the sea trout surveys
One of a number of flounder
A 15 spined stickleback, a first for us.