Distiller makes leap forward in Speyside river management

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A Scotch whisky distiller has recently installed a new weir and fish pass to boost sustainability of salmon and trout stocks to help a river that is vital to the industry.

The new weir and fish pass in the river Dullan is the result of a £550,000 investment by Diageo and was built in collaboration with the Spey Fishery Board.

The project, which has taken three and a half years to design and construct, replaces an outdated and damaged weir, and will significantly improve upstream biodiversity and increase the opportunity for spawning trout and salmon.

A similar, smaller scale project has also recently been completed on the Burn of Linkwood at Linkwood Distillery in Elgin, in the neighboring River Lossie catchment.

New Dufftown Weir – image supplied by Spey Fishery Board.

Diageo’s Mortlach Distillery and Dufftown Distillery currently use water from the river Dullan for cooling in the distilling process, but the weir will bring environmental benefits to the whole Spey water catchment area which is home to 11 Diageo single malt distilleries.

Lee Oliver, Environment Manager at Diageo, said: “The design of the new fish pass is a vast improvement on the old, damaged weir at Dufftown and takes into account free passage for all fish species as well as different flow conditions.

“We have worked closely with the Spey Fishery Board to develop a weir system that will benefit all river users and in turn the local community. I am delighted to see the project complete and look forward to monitoring the results on fish populations over the next few years.”

Spey Fishery Board has supported the project throughout the design and installation process. The team has shown its support for the new pass and has already noted an increase in spawning salmonids.

Brian Shaw, Senior Biologist at Spey Fishery Board, said: “The Spey Fishery Board was delighted to be able to work with Diageo, and their team, to bring about this inspiring renovation of the weir and fish pass.

“We like it. More importantly, so do the fish! The number of spawning redds counted above the weir last autumn was the highest we have recorded.

“We look forward to the Dullan Water fulfilling its potential to become one of the most productive rivers in the Spey catchment.”