What we do



The Trust is currently involved in a number of projects and initiatives. Many of these have been identified as important within the Fisheries Management Plan 2019 - 2023. For more information on each, please click on the appropriate link.


Current Projects :


Post smolt netting and tagging of sea trout in estuaries


Sweep netting is carried out on the estuaries and all trout of a certain size are tagged. At present very little is known about sea trout habitat use during the marine phase of its lifecycle, and recaptured fish give information on growth rates and marine migrations. Numbers of sea lice on each fish are also recorded allowing comparisons with neighbouring fish farms as part of the assessment of the affects of these farms on wild salmonids.


Juvenile Surveys


Undertaken by electrofishing in the rivers and burns in the summer. At each site the presence and abundance of salmonid fry and parr is recorded, allowing an assessment of the health of the population and early notification of problems.


Habitat Assessment


A river habitat survey describes the physical characteristics of the area including vegetation cover, substrate composition and flow type. The habitat assessment gives a detailed list of the issues apparent in the catchments and ways to improve the area for fish.


Scottish Invasive Species Initiative

 The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI) is an exciting and ambitious partnership project set up to tackle invasive non-native species alongside rivers and water courses in northern Scotland. We are one of ten fishery trust/board* partners in SISI and are working to deliver the project across our catchments.


Funding for the 2017-2023 project is from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (£1.59M) and NatureScot (£0.5M) with in-kind funding from the Fisheries Trusts and volunteer time (£1.25M). The total project value is £3.34 million.Funding for the 2023 – 2026 project is provided by the Scottish Government's Nature Restoration Fund (£2.08M), managed by NatureScot, with in-kind funding from project partners and volunteers (£0.8M). The total project value is £2.9 million.




Biosecurity is a very relevant and important part of the Trust work. In 2009 we produced the first Biosecurity Plan for the area and are now working with others to prevent the spread of Invasive Non Native Species (INNS), and remove any that are currently present. In 2017 we became partners in the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative, updating the Biosecurity Plan, identifying and treating INNS and raising awareness of the issue.




Education is an important aspect of the Trusts remit, we work with a variety of groups to raise awareness of fish conservation and promote best practice amongst fishers. The annual Ghillies Seminar is always well received, while the Trust also undertakes different projects and demonstrations with the local schools and the Highland Council Ranger Service.


Arctic Charr


In 2021 our seasonal assistant, Sam Poultney, developed and undertook a project on Arctic charr. This project was undertaken in conjunction with Queen Mary University London (QMUL), who provided eDNA expertise.



A fish trap is deployed in April and May to assess the smolt run within the Badna Bay catchment. All species caught are recorded and length and age data collected. These data feed into a National database and are reported in the Annual Review.


Badna Bay trap



Scale reading


Scale reading provides information on the age and growth of fish as well as the number of times it has spawned. Much of this is undertaken on scale samples submitted by anglers and scales taken from salmonids during post smolt netting in the estuaries.


Area Management Agreements (AMA)


Area Management Agreements (AMA) - have been signed in Lochs Laxford and Eriboll as part of the Tripartite Working Group initiative. These are agreements between farms and wild fish interests, enabling dialogue with the aim of improving farm and estate management to the benefit of wild and farmed salmonids. The Loch Laxford AMA was the first to be signed in Scotland.




Past Projects :


The following projects were previously undertaken by the Trust. Reports are available by clicking on the title.

Sea Lice dispersal modelling


Carried out in conjunction with Loch Duart Ltd and the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences, the Trust undertook plankton sampling within the area to provide data for the model development.


The Laxford Sea Trout Tracking Project


During 2018 we tracked 99 sea trout within Loch Laxford in order to determine how the fish are using the sea loch, its estuaries and bays. This will help inform future coastal management of sea trout. The project was undertaken in collaboration with Atlantic Salmon Trust, Marine Scotland, and the University of Glasgow (SCENE).


Salmon Louse infestations


Salmon louse infestations of Scottish west coast sea trout post-smolts - Undertaken in conjunction with the Association of West Coast Fisheries Trusts, from 1997 - 2000.



Planktonic lice levels throughout the west coast, 2002 - 2005


Undertaken in conjunction with AWCFT and FRS. See Planktonic sea lice in Loch Laxford (pdf)


Manse Trap


Operated from 1998 - 2005, this looked at the smolt run within the system and marine survival rates. See Manse Trap (pdf)


Marine productivity


Marine productivity - Undertaken in 2006 to look at the productivity within Lochs Laxford and Eriboll.


Elver Survey


Undertaken by Dr May for the Trust with the support of the Highland Biodiversity Partnership. It aimed to increase our knowledge of the current distribution of elvers in Sutherland. See West Sutherland Elver Survey 2008 (pdf)


Genetic assessment of trout populations


Undertaken with funding from the Scottish Government, this is an initial look at the population structure.  See Genetic assessment of sea-trout populations in west Sutherland (pdf)


Eel Populations


The assessment of the eel population in the Geisgeil catchment was started in 2008. Part-funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, it is hoped to improve the management of the population within the catchment, as well as providing more of an insight into the ecology this endangered species.


Email : wsft@btconnect.com    Tel : 01971 502259 
Postal Address : WSFT, Gardeners Cottage, Scourie, By Lairg. Sutherland, IV27 4SX.
Charity number : SC024426  Useful Links
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