Moray Firth Trout Initiative (MFTI) wins Heritage Lottery Support

The Moray Firth Trout Initiative (MFTI) has received a grant of £56,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The MFTI is an exciting new project that aims to protect the future of Moray Firth Trout populations and the communities that depend on them through education and conservation. The project will be administered by the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust

The Moray Firth Trout Initiative (MFTI) is a partnership project that will work with local Fisheries Trusts, District Salmon Fishery Boards and Community Angling Associations to protect this species through environmental education and the conservation of trout populations and habitat.

Brown trout and sea trout are both the same species, Salmo trutta, and are highly adaptable, found from highland hill lochs down through major rivers and streams to coastal estuaries and out to sea. However their broad distribution and diverse life history exposes them to extensive threats from changing land use practices in their freshwater habitat to environmental changes and declining food supplies at sea. Although, sea trout catches are known to be falling in many regions in Scotland, very little is known about how our brown trout populations are faring. This is particularly prevalent in the Moray Firth where there has been a 42% decline in the average sea trout rod and line catch over the last 10 years. In 2011 the Moray Firth Rod and line catch of sea trout was the second lowest year on record (1952−2011)1. This worrying trend is threatening local Angling Associations and Clubs that have traditionally relied on sea trout fishing to attract members and visiting anglers.

The MFTI will work with the local Fisheries Trust network to provide both school aged children (primary and secondary) and adults with a better understanding of freshwater ecology and a sense of ownership of their local environment through education and practical involvement in conservation. The MFTI will deliver 15 school visits per year and a series of educational talks and walks on the biology of trout and the threats they face in local rivers and burns.

Furthermore the MFTI will offer local volunteers the opportunity to get involved in the practical conservation and management of their local rivers and trout populations. There will be opportunities to conduct habitat surveys, collect trout scales, survey coastal and upland hill Lochs while also helping to restore degraded local rivers and burns. This work will help inform local fisheries management and will protect our local freshwater ecosystems helping to ensure healthy and productive trout populations for future generations.

The establishment of the Moray Firth Trout Initiative is excellent and has the full support of WTT. We are collaborating to take forward a few ideas, such as incorporation of WTT’s Mayfly in the Classroom programme into the schools’ work of the Scottish rivers and fisheries trusts, with training for the trusts’ biologists organised and run jointly by MFTI and WTT.

If you are interested in volunteering or helping in anyway contact:

Marcus Walters, MFTI Project Manager on 07500602216 or walters.​mfstp@​googlemail.​com