Date lodged: 12 March 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made or plans of the impact of beavers on the Atlantic salmon population.
Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 23 March 2018
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) commissioned two detailed reviews of the interactions between beavers and fish species, undertaken by the Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory in 1997 and the University of Southampton in 2010. These reviews informed the work of the Beaver-Salmonid Working Group (BSWG) which was established in 2009 (as a sub-group of the National Species Reintroduction Forum) to consider the potential impacts of beaver activity on salmonids (Atlantic salmon and brown trout).
The BSWG reported in 2015. The findings of the report were included in SNH’s 2015 ‘Beavers in Scotland’ report to the Scottish Government, which contained sections on beaver interactions with fish (including salmonids) and fisheries.
A Habitats Regulations Appraisal (HRA) was carried out in 2017, following the decision on the future of beavers in Scotland announced by the Scottish Government in November 2016. The HRA involves assessments of the expected impacts of beavers on Natura sites, including those with Atlantic salmon as a qualifying feature.
It is anticipated that future research will look at further negative and positive beaver-salmonid interactions (including for Atlantic salmon), to help further refine monitoring methods and management guidance. SNH is currently investigating, with the University of Exeter, whether modelling tools can help identify river stretches where damming is most likely. This could be linked to salmon presence to help target future management.