Oil Leak 135 What about the value of rivers bordering the firth

There are a number of important salmon and sea trout rivers draining into the Moray firth, namely, the rivers: Ness, Conon, Beauly, Nairn, Findhorn, Spey, Brora, Shin, Oykel and Cassley. These rivers rely on the passage of fish to and from the rivers through the waters of the inner Moray Firth. An oil spill would be potentially devastating, and could wipe up out fish stocks depending on the time of year. An even more concerning proposition is the potential to import fish diseases through the discharge of untreated ballast water. Calculations suggest in excess of 2 million tonnes per annum of untreated ballast water could be discharge into the Inner Moray Firth. This is one of the potential transfer routes for ectoparasite Gyrodactylus salaris,[1] responsible for wiping out salmon populations in more than 40 Norweigian rivers. In 2003, angling on the River Spey alone resulted in £11.8 million in local expenditure.[2] Estimates are not available for the other rivers, but if each were worth a conservative average of £3million to local economy, this equates to £28.9 million in value for the game fishing rivers draining into the inner Moray Firth. We are not the only ones to identify the potential impact on sea trout and salmon – Marine Scotland also identified this as a potential issue in their response that was never sent. We will publish details shortly.

[1] Scottish Government: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/seamanagement/ballastFAQ

[2] SNH report Valuing our environment: the economic impact of Scotland’s natural environment http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/B304460.pdf