Ahlstrom commit to helping environment

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ONE of Berwickshire’s largest employers have made a firm commitment to the local environment by installing a new fish counter on the River Whiteadder.

Ahlstrom Limited have premises at Chirnside next to the Whiteadder and after entering into discussions with the Tweed Foundation into what they could do to assist their work, they paid for an infra-red fish counter which was installed in the weir in September and has been operating successfully to date.

The counter will be of great help to the foundation when it comes to examining the Whiteadder’s fish population and director Nick Yonge said it was a very welcome addition.

“Ahlstrom approached us about doing something for fish management on the river and we suggested that a fish counter would be the best thing as it would help us understand fish runs on the Whiteadder.

“They are a very environmentally aware company and although the final cost of the counter was almost double that of the original estimate they went ahead and bought and installed it.

“We’re helping them run it but unfortunately while it will give us meaningful results it won’t be able to provide an absolute count as Ahsltrom sits too far up the river.

“Unlike the other fish counter installations on the Ettrick and Gala waters, a proportion of fish can ascend the weir at Ahlstrom as well as the fish pass and counter.

“However the counter does include a camera, meaning that a video will be taken of every fish that passes through it. This will help us identify how fish run with the flow of the river; what species and sizes of species are running through the Whiteadder; the reaction of migratory fish to freshet releases from the Whiteadder reservoir, as well as a minimum population count for the Upper Whiteadder.”

The records provided by the counter will be particularly interesting in the coming year after the Whiteadder had what Nick described as a “difficult year.”

“The weather has definitely played its part although fortunately the worst of it came right at the end of the fishing season.

“The main stem of the river and its tributaries have seen the most prodigious run in 50 years.

“Salmon has been less prolific in the past few years which makes this year’s result all the more astounding.

“The Whiteadder hasn’t had such a good season. Whiteadder salmon are relatively new stock having been blocked off at Newmills before a fish pass was installed.

“Numbers have been all right but the river hasn’t seen the enormous surge of fish that other waters have.”

A spokesperson for Ahlstrom commented: “We have an excellent working relationship with the Tweed Foundation and the River Tweed Commission. Following a request by the Tweed Foundation some time ago to install a fish counter on our cauld, Ahlstrom were pleased to finally complete this in September.

“The counter is operating successfully and will hopefully aid in managing the river and improving fish stocks.”