Aug 152014
salmon amidst gore killed in a coastal net

Salmon amidst gore, killed in a coastal net.

By Andrew Graham-Stewart.

The Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland) is appealing to Scottish Ministers to encourage maximum restraint in any exploitation of salmon in the next few months.

The appeal is in response to this year’s very poor runs of salmon, which so far in 2014 are believed by many to be the worst in living

The evidence for this is from angling catches, in-river netting catches and fish counters across most of Scotland.

Thus the provisional number of fish recorded at the counter on the River North Esk (Scotland’s most closely monitored river) to the end of July is just two-thirds of the five year average. The poor runs in 2014 follow very sparse runs in 2013.

Hugh Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), commented:

“The very limited numbers of salmon returning to our shores reflect poor marine survival for the second year running. On many rivers, angling catches to date are no more than 50 % of what one would normally expect.

“In the circumstances it is vital that as many as possible of those salmon that have successfully returned from the ocean are able to spawn successfully, and so anglers have a responsibility to release as many as possible of the fish they catch”

Mr Campbell Adamson added:

“Given the gravity of the situation Scottish Ministers need to intervene immediately to stop any further killing of salmon this season by the coastal nets. In recent weeks salmon returning to the coast after their marine migrations have, because of the low water levels in most rivers, been either reluctant to or unable to enter their rivers of origin.

“Due to these summer conditions depleted stocks have meandered up and down the coast where they have been highly vulnerable to the coastal nets. These nets have been able to kill an entirely disproportionate number.  The Government’s support for the netting industry, and its failure to regulate or limit catches, is now coming home to roost.

“Ministers have a clear duty to step in to prevent any further indiscriminate killing of our depleted and fragile stocks”

The number of salmon killed in nets in 2013 was 50% higher than in 2012 – according to the official Scottish Government figures. There are no quotas set for wild salmon and consequently there is no mechanism to limit catches by netsmen – whatever the strength or weakness of local populations.

Ian Gordon, leading salmon consultant and gillie, said:

“It is fundamentally inequitable that Scotland’s coastal netting stations, which employ no more than 50, mainly part-time, individuals, are permitted to kill as many salmon as they are able to, before the fish reach our rivers. Wild salmon are a dwindling resource and the over-riding priority must now be to protect the 2,000 plus jobs of gillies and others on our rivers that depend upon a thriving angling industry to be viable.

“Angling, with the great majority of salmon caught released safely back into the river, is essentially sustainable but, if our rivers do not hold sufficient salmon stocks, anglers will simply vote with their feet – thus jeopardising in-river employment and the economies of local communities. In these circumstances Scotland can simply no longer afford to allow unrestricted coastal netting.”

More information:

The Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) was established in 1903 to address the damage done to our rivers by the polluting effects of the Industrial Revolution. For 111 years, the S&TA has worked to protect fisheries, fish stocks and the wider aquatic environment on behalf of game angling and fisheries.

S&TA has charitable status in both England and Scotland. S&TA’s charitable objectives empower it to address all issues affecting fish and the aquatic environment, supported by strong scientific evidence from its scientific network. Its charitable status enable it to take the widest possible remit in protecting salmonid fish stocks, and the aquatic environment upon which they depend.

Mixed stocks coastal netting stations indiscriminately catch any salmon passing by, regardless of where they are heading or the strength of the various populations in their home rivers. They are completely non-selective, making the management of individual river stocks almost impossible.

The Scottish Government’s 2001 Green Paper on Freshwater Fish and Fisheries stated that:

“the exploitation of salmon outside their river of origin is widely accepted as contrary to good salmon management, primarily on the grounds that it does not discriminate between separate river populations and therefore severely inhibits monitoring and optimum management of exploitation of stocks on a catchment basis.”

In addition, 17 rivers in Scotland are designated as Special Areas of Conservation, part of the Natura 2000 network – a series of internationally important wildlife sites throughout the European Union. The random nature of mixed stock fisheries makes it extremely difficult to determine the impact of such fisheries on these important conservation sites.

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  One Response to “Conservation Group Calls To Limit Salmon Exploitation”

  1. No mention of seals ? Blame the fishermen and not the seals ?
    I been following the last couple of months on here about Usan fisheries and aint had the time to type stuff or show pictures that i wanted to show. I can now spare a few minutes to type today.
    I been a salmon fisherman for 30 years and in all that time the salmon fisheries has reduced by over 80%. The number of seals has probably risen 1000%. Back in the 80’s alot of salmon fishing stations were licensed to shoot seals, and alot of fishing stations were paid a bounty by river boards for each seal shot. Evidence of seals shot was to cut the seals tail off and then hand the tails to appropriate river boards. This practise was still ongoing on at least 1 river board 10 years ago.
    Since the closure of most of scotlands salmon fishing stations the seal population has been left to grow as there was no seal shootings in most areas. The control of seals could be seen as similar to pest control. e.g. forrestry commision killing deer, farmers killing foxes. But seals is a much bigger problem.
    All along the scottish coast everyone can see the seals
    are a growing species.

    I read one reply to a story on this site where the person says seals don’t eat much salmon, thats utter crap.
    I used to find lots of remains of salmon in my nets, mostly all thats left is the heads of salmon.
    Seals will also attack dolphins and porpoises.

    Most rivers i seen lately from aberdeen to inverness have lots of seals in them. I seen seals up the river dee & don, its just easy pickings for the seals to get a feed. What are these river boards doing to get rid of the seals ?
    The Ythan Estuary is full of seals, its very noticeable to alot of people that the number has increased alot in the last 10 years. Not so long ago a gamekeepers dog went into the water there to retrieve a duck i think it was and the dog was mauled by a seal. I fear it won’t be long before a person swimming/paddling gets attacked by a seal in this area. Whats Ythan District Fishery Board doing to keep seals away from eating the salmon trying to get up the river ?

    Its amazing how so many fish went up all the rivers when all the salmon fishing stations were active. Yet when most the salmon fishing stations closed down theres not so many salmon going up the rivers. So all you do-gooders, so called scientists, river boards, conservation groups. maybe you should look at blaming the seals instead of salmon fishermen. Heres a link to some photo’s i taken while working at blackdog salmon fishing station in previous years. its just a small selection of pics at moment but i shall add more when i have more spare time.

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