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Just four sea lice on 20 sea trout caught in the Kanaird estuary

Posted: Wednesday 30 June, 2021 @ 19:49:15

Mark, Jonathan, James, Nigel, Cal and Greg at the Kanaird on 10th June

The WRFT sweep netting team carried out its first sweep of the Kanaird river estuary for nearly two years on 10th June 2021 to sample sea trout and learn more about levels of sea lice infestation. After seeing high numbers of sea lice earlier in the spring on sea trout in Loch Gairloch there was concern that sea trout within the Loch Broom area might also be subject to high levels of sea lice infestation.

We were supported by a team of enthusiastic local volunteers and Cal Major with friend and award winning cameraman, James Appleton.

Cal and James are remarkable adventurers with many stories (including award winning films).  Cal is currently paddleboarding around Scotland ahead of COP 26. Just the day before sweep netting Cal had an encounter with three orca when paddling north of Lochinver! In 20 years of living in Wester Ross (with much time spent sea watching) the WRFT Biologist has seen orca only once.

Two sweeps were carried out. Altogether 20 trout of up to 540mm in length were caught; all were in good, fin perfect condition with a total of just 4 sea lice. Our results were possibly the best we have ever had at the Kanaird estuary location; in some previous years we have encountered early returned sea trout carrying in excess of 100 lice per fish at the Kanaird site.

The very low numbers of sea lice on sea trout in the Kanaird estuary were all the more remarkable as they contrast with the very high numbers of sea lice recorded on sea trout sampled elsewhere so far this year, including at some sites around the Isle of Skye and in Lochaber; and also in Norway. Fisheries Management Scotland has expressed much concern at the unsatisfactory situation for wild fish elsewhere.

In contrast to some of the much larger salmon farms further south, the nearby salmon farms in the Loch Broom area operated by Wester Ross Fisheries have been able to sustain very low sea lice numbers in recent years, except for one count over the Code of Good Practice on the nearby farm in late May 2021.  

Weekly sea lice counts can now be viewed on Scotland Aquaculture website via links at .

Thank you very much to Nigel, Greg, Mark, Jonathan and especially to Cal and James for their interest, support and encouragement. Sweep netting for sea trout by WRFT is supported by the Scottish Government. For permissions and support, thank you very much to Kaenchulish estate and to Wester Ross Fisheries.  

Cal’s expedition and adventures can be followed via links at . Follow her paddleboard expedition around Scotland at .

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