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In the spotlight: The River Cree Hatchery & Habitat Trust SCIO

At River Action, we want to highlight the amazing work of communities up and down the country. Here we take a look at River Cree Hatchery & Habitat Trust SCIO (RCHHT) a community-led conservation project initiated by local people who have a passion to improve the health of their river.

THE STORY

In March 2010, members of Newton Stewart Angling Association commenced the hatchery and habitat project in response to the decline in the numbers of Atlantic salmon in The River Cree and its tributaries.

By October 2010 the hatchery facility was operational and in the first season some 65000 salmon fry were raised in the hatchery and returned to the river.

In 2011 a charitable trust, The River Cree Hatchery and Habitat Trust, was formed to take over the running of the project and shortly thereafter a full-time Hatchery Coordinator was employed to oversee the running of the operation.  Over the next few years the project steadily increased the scope of its activities, including:

  • Up to 190,000 salmon fry were reared in the hatchery each year and stocked into the Cree catchment.
  • Electro-fishing skills were honed in order to assist with broodstock capture and to monitor fish numbers, including stocked fry
  • A programme of extensive habitat improvements was commenced, including removing barriers to migration, controlling Invasive Non Native Species, cutting back self-seeded Sitka on the banks of spawning burns and re-planting with native broadleaf trees.
  • An education programme, initially involving four local primary schools, was developed. 
  • A training programme was developed to enable employment and training opportunities to be offered to local unemployed youngsters.
  • Volunteering opportunities were offered for up to forty local people each year. Fish husbandry techniques were developed to improve the quality of the salmon fry being reared. Stocking of a limited number of fin-clipped fry was commenced to assist in identifying hatchery-reared adult salmon

In February 2023 the operation was transferred to River Cree Hatchery & Habitat Trust SCIO, which continues to deliver and develop all the above activities.

To deliver this extensive programme of activities it is important that the Trust trains a team of volunteers with the necessary skills to run the hatchery and con-duct the habitat restoration work. The Trustees would very much appreciate any assistance you feel you could offer to promote the further development of River Cree Hatchery & Habitat Trust SCIO. For further information on future developments please contact: Murdo Crosbie (Co-ordinator) Tel: 01671 403722/ 07798653740; email to: mcrosbie7@aol.com.