Dee District Salmon Fishery Board and River Dee Trust welcome news of the discovery of first salmon fry in the Culter catchment in 250 years


The Dee District Salmon Fishery Board and River Dee Trust have welcomed news of the discovery of the first salmon fry to have been born in the Culter catchment in 250 years.

The River Dee electrofishing team made the discovery on Tuesday when they were conducting a survey on the Gormack Burn near Echt. The team made three sweeps of a 100 square metre section of the Gormack Burn and found 22 salmon fry. The fry were discovered approximately 13km above the Culter fish pass, which was installed at Peterculter in October 2014 with financial support from local businessmen Martin Gilbert and Stewart Spence. The first salmon ascended the pass on 3 October 2014 and early indications suggested successful spawning. The team will continue to monitor how the fish are repopulating the area over the coming years.

Full details of the Culter Fish Pass project are available at

Pamela Esson, Field Officer for the Trust, said: “The discovery of the salmon fry is exciting news for the Dee and we should see some of these juveniles returning to the river in three to four years’ time. The electrofishing team had struggled with high water levels recently, so this was our first opportunity to conduct a thorough survey. We are delighted to have found these fry and are looking forward to finding more juvenile salmon populations in the catchment over the next week or so.”

Mark Bilsby, Director of the Dee Board and Trust, commented: “Getting this fish pass built has been a massive effort and to know that the fish are using it and now colonising so far upstream is excellent news for them and all involved in this project. It is no secret that 2015 has been a very challenging year on the river with poor numbers coming back from the sea, so for the  fish to be making use of the Culter Burn is incredibly encouraging and bodes well for the future.”


Issued by Andrew Graham-Stewart on behalf of the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board and the River Dee Trust. For further information telephone Mark Bilsby, Director of the Dee Board and Trust, on 01339 880411 or 07810 880409.

Notes for Editors

  1. The Dee District Salmon Fishery Board is the statutory body responsible for the protection, preservation and development of salmon and sea trout fisheries in the Dee system.


  1. The River Dee Trust is a community-based charitable company, registered in Scotland, No. SC028497. It was set up in 1998 and is tasked with the following aims and objectives:


  1. To improve our knowledge of the ecology and associated fish stocks of the River Dee so that practical improvements and restoration of the River and the wildlife it supports can be achieved. We work in co-operation with those that have the improvement of the River at heart.


  1. To deliver educational information to schools, organisations and individuals living in the North East of Scotland.


  1. To achieve these aims the River Dee Trust must raise sufficient funds so that these works can be achieved to the highest standard.



  1. Culter Dam Background


Culter Dam is a remnant of a large paper mill that closed in the 1980s. For over 250 years the dam has prevented fish from accessing the Culter Burn, which is the second largest tributary of the Dee. Since 2007 the River Dee Trust and Dee District Salmon Fishery Board have removed or eased 27 man-made structures from the River Dee’s tributaries. The aim of this work is simple: To allow fish to gain access to their natural spawning and rearing grounds.


The work on the Culter Dam was delivered jointly by the Trust and Dee DSFB, entirely funded by two businessmen Martin Gilbert and Stewart Spence, without which the work would not have gone ahead.

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