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The Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory (FFL) conducts science to inform the development of Scottish policies and to support local fisheries management and conservation. Staff work on a range of fish species in fresh water, but primarily Atlantic salmon and brown (sea) trout, which are of most economic value to Scottish fisheries. They also work in coastal marine environments to study the diadromous fishes- Atlantic salmon, sea trout and European eel, which migrate to and from the Oceans.

Within Marine Scotland Science, the Freshwater Programme is closely aligned to programmes supporting marine spatial planning, marine fisheries and the sustainable developemnt of aquaculture and marine renewable energy. This network provides access to the necessary infrastructure for investigations in harsh and challenging upland freshwater, esturine and marine environments.

FFL houses the Scottish Fisheries Coordination Centre, which fosters close interactions with fisheries biologists working for local fisheries trusts, with an aim of stadardising methods of data collection and facilitating storage of information for the general good of fisheries management.

Staffing and structure

FL employs about 40 staff, including research students and fixed term appointments. The management team includes a programme leader and three group leaders, covering the following subjects:


  • Operation of Girnock and Baddoch traps
  • Acid water monitoring network
  • Scottish water temperature network
  • Impacts of marine renewable energy

Fisheries management and Ecology:

  • Operation of Shieldaig sea trout research station and trap
  • Impacts of aquaculture
  • Application of genetics to assess mixed-stock fisheries
  • Licensing introductions of fish
  • Development of conservation limits for salmon


  • Operation of Marine Scotland fish counters (Logie, Westwater, Helmesdale)
  • Collection of data at the N Esk salmon index site
  • Provision of advice to ICES working groups on salmon and eels
  • Support for NASCO
  • South Esk demonstration project

Although the groups lead on the topics listed, they and the programme director work closely together to deliver the broad range of expertise required to address the key topics most effectively, such as the assessment of salmon stocks.

Students and post-doctoral workers

The Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory has a long history of collaborative work with a range of Universities in Scotland and elsewhere. Many of these staff have continued to work in fisheries management either as academics or for fisheries trusts. Currently, FFL is involved in supervising:

  • Tim Burton (post-doc, University of Glasgow) (John Armstrong)
  • Daryl Maclennon (PhD student, University of Glasgow) (John Armstrong)
  • Fay Jackson (PhD student, University of Birmingham) (Iain Malcolm)