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26th April 2024

Methodologies for sampling fish populations in Scottish freshwater lochs

Loch Reflection - Photo Credit: Tim Winterburn/UHI Inverness


An understanding of the fish species present and their abundance in Scottish lochs is required for management and conservation purposes, and also to fulfil regulatory requirements. Furthermore, the recent increase in pumped storage hydro-electric development proposals involving large freshwater lochs has the potential to create additional pressures on fish populations. In order to address this, it is important that fish populations are properly assessed during environmental impact assessments and scoping. While a variety of established methods for fish monitoring exist, there is no ’one size fits all’ method, therefore careful consideration is needed in order to determine the best approaches to monitoring. It is therefore important that we have an understanding of the ecological data requirements, and how best to attain these across space and time in order to ensure that fish populations in Scottish freshwater lochs are adequately protected.


The aim of this project was to assess the currently available methodologies for sampling fish populations in Scottish freshwater lochs. Acknowledging the complexity and longstanding challenges with fish monitoring in standing freshwaters, the main objective here was to produce guidelines which support the development of suitable fish assessment programmes.

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