Good News for fisheries and conservation in Lochaber
The Highland Council and Lochaber Fisheries Trust are pleased to confirm that, so far, eradication of North American Signal Crayfish in Ballachulish Quarry appears to have been successful.
The crayfish, a small lobster like species, were first discovered in the Ballachulish Quarry pond by one of the Council’s Countryside Rangers in August 2011. This was the first time that signal crayfish had been found in Lochaber and was the most northerly recorded occurrence of this species on the west coast of Scotland. Where they occur, signal crayfish can compete with fish for food and shelter, and they can be a significant predator of a range of freshwater animals, feeding on insects, frogs and young fish and their eggs. Signal crayfish also have an impact on the banks of rivers and lochs by burrowing into them. This can lead to increased erosion and damage to the spawning grounds of a variety of fish. In some situations it may cause some banks to become unstable. This means that their presence is of concern to conservationists and anglers alike.
Ballachulish Quarry is owned by The Highland Council and managed by the Development and Infrastructure Service for public recreation. Working with a number of partners including Lochaber Fisheries Trust, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Highland Council implemented complex eradication measures in June 2012. Periodic monitoring since that time indicates the complete absence of the species from the quarry waters, which is a major achievement for the benefit of conservation and fisheries in Lochaber.
Commenting on behalf of the Lochaber Fisheries Trust, Diane Baum said: “'We are very encouraged by the monitoring to date. It is a little too early to be completely confident we removed every last crayfish from the ponds, but at this stage we are cautiously optimistic about the success of the project.”
Members of the public are reminded that it is against the law to capture, keep, transport or release live signal crayfish into the wild without a licence. Any suspicious activity, at Ballachulish Quarry or elsewhere, should be reported to the police.
Members of the public who think they have seen signal crayfish anywhere in the area should report this to the Lochaber Fisheries Trust: Tel. 01397 703728, Email Lochaberfisheriestrust@gmail.com.