The River Cree is home to salmon, sea trout and rainbow trout but sadly these fish are vulnerable to environmental degradation. Their habitat requires constant care to encourage salmon and sea trout to spawn naturally and provide a safe and food-rich environment for fry to mature. The River Cree Hatchery and Habitat Trust use a hatchery to restore salmon and sea trout numbers while its habitat restoration programme creates a sustainable future for the fish to breed and grow without intervention. A National Lottery grant allowed the charity to buy essential equipment.
The process from catching brood stock to releasing the fry is labour intensive. Twenty two people worked on the release of 60,000 fry in 2011 alone. Trained volunteers are supervised by a hatchery coordinator. The fish require specialist tanks and certain water flows according to their stage of development. Thousands of eggs are stripped, fertilised, washed, weighed and laid out on egg trays. Volunteers monitor water levels in the burns until they are favourable for release. Restoration activities focus on the burns that feed into the River Cree catchment.
A rolling survey programme identifies areas that need attention to make them fit for spawning and favourable as nurseries for the fry. The Trust’s work greatly benefits other riverside wildlife and the local community. Volunteers are trained in a wide range of skills, there is greater public awareness of conservation and the River is being preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.