Volunteer

My Electrofishing Experience by Elspeth Smith 

I was able to get into the electrofishing course through the Trust which was certified by the Scottish Fisheries Co-ordination Centre (SFCC).  This was a two-day course which the first day was on theory where I learnt about how to use the equipment This was a two day course which the first day was on theory where I learned about how to use the equipment, how to safely perform electrofishing and how to measure the fish. There was a lot to learn over the two-day course, but I really enjoyed it and I would recommend it. Once I had passed the theory test and had proved I could use the equipment safely, I was set to go out electrofishing. The first time I went out electrofishing I went out with David and one other volunteer whom I met on the course. The first river was in woodland and I was on the net which meant I had to position myself in the right place for the person fishing so they could lead the fish into the net with ease. The target fish species were trout and salmon which had to be measured, but any other fish caught were included in the tally. It is very exciting when you see the fish coming into your net.  The second river was in the middle of a car park, it was an odd place to do electrofishing, but people showed a lot of interested in what we were doing. I enjoyed explaining what electrofishing is about and show them all the fish we caught.  I was on the bucket on this river which meant I had to be ready for the person on the net to put the fish in the bucket, keeping any eye on the health of the fish. The third river was in a housing area where I was the one fishing, it was a shallow river which meant there was not a lot of fish.  It was so exhilarating to catch my first fish; it was important to stay calm and keep the fish coming into the net. I will never forget my first electrofishing experience and catching my first fish.   

 

 

Electrofishing Team Leader – RiverLife

Working with volunteers

One of the things I like to do is talk about the natural world in order to share my passion for discovering and recording the places Scotland’s native species are lurking. This makes the task of surveying nature all the more enjoyable, especially when leading volunteers on a voyage of discovery. The starting point of this journey is training, specifically skills for locating and reporting what is uncovered. In all my experience the most extreme version of this surveying is electrofishing. Even the name itself ‘electrofishing’ evokes the image of mad scientist, couple this with the specialist kit we use and the scientist cliché is almost complete. The fact that we can incorporate any willing member of the public to join us in the field, for me is a bonus. When you are in the water looking like a ghostbuster you should expect a few comments from people; when you show them a bucket full of fish extracted from the burn running through a car park, they become more aware of the nature right on their doorstep. If you then have a couple of volunteers on your team, that sharing of information becomes validated by a common connection, not purely in a trickle-down way, but by way of association, by mutual interest and intrigue. In addition to captivating locals, utilising volunteers acts as a skills sharing exercise. Gaining employment within the environmental sector is becoming increasingly difficult, obtaining an array of skills is highly beneficial. This is where the trust helps in upskilling individuals to improve their employability. The best example of this I can give is me, I received electrofishing training with the trust via a volunteer program during my degree and here I am passing those skills forward.