Controversial salmon stocking

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Scottish Sporting Gazette

There are no two ways about it: the 2014 salmon season was a veritable crisis. River boards across the UK, from Caithness to Cornwall, reported a perturbing dearth, and with the salmon's lifecycle still such an enigma, the future looks bleak.

Andrew Graham Stewart of The Salmon & Trout Association stated: ?In Scotland alone, the season's rod catch fell short of 50,000 - this compares to a five-year average of 84,500.

And nowhere is this pinch more felt than on the West Coast, with many rivers down by as much as 50 per cent. There is, however, one anomaly.

Over the last decade, the River Carron has seen catches increase from a handful a year to an annual average of 300, owing to an unorthodox and controversial stocking programme.

For nearly 20 years, Mr Kindness, manager of the River Carron Restoration project, has been utilising 16 large tanks and several pools near Strathcarron, Wester Ross to breed female salmon from wild eggs taken from fish from the river. He claims his success rate is far better than in nature - last year he released 330,000 young fish into the system.

The project has its critics, who accuse Mr Kindness of 'playing god with the genetic make-up of the region's wild salmon'.

Mr Kindness retorted: "Our problem was that we didn't have young fish in the river. The pressures from predation and the changing weather patterns made it difficult for them to survive. Mother Nature wasn't going to bring them back, so we had to step in."

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