Anglers reeling at salmon ban
Salmon anglers are set to again be banned from taking “one for the pot” in a controversial u-turn one year after the policy was lifted.
Members of the Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association (LLAIA) have been left reeling at the decision set to be made by the Scottish Government, which will see the strict policy put back in place in 2018 following a consultation due to end next week.
Once in force, the regulation will put Loch Lomond, the River Leven and other local fishing spots back into the highest possible conservation category. This means a mandatory catch and release order applies to all salmon caught in the area.
Currently, the waters are listed as category 2, which would allow some salmon to be taken home.
It was announced in December last year the category would be downgraded from April 2017 following a hard-fought campaign by the LLAIA.
The association – which is made up of 400 anglers – is now planning to appeal the decision and they are encouraging members to make their concerns known.
Their plight has garnered support from Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie, who supported the LLAIA in their plea last year to have the ban lifted.
Secretary of the LLAIA, Gareth Bourhill said: “We have to go through this every year and it causes so much uncertainty.
“Anglers will travel to Loch Lomond for the day to fish as it is a category 2 status but when that changes it may reduce those numbers and therefore have an affect on things such as tourism and local businesses.
“We fully understand there is a problem with Atlantic salmon numbers, but it’s a far more complicated issue than an angler taking a few fish every year.
“We, as an association, work to help conservation. We have reduced the number of kill tags from five to three and we also restricted the timescale anglers are allowed to take fish.
“Our water bailiffs also monitor the waters on a regular basis and make sure anglers are adhering to the regulations in place.”
Prior to the change to category 2 last year the Scottish Government initially wanted to keep the restrictions in place for 2017, but officials from Marine Scotland agreed to recategorise local fisheries after concerns were raised about the quality of the data used in their calculations. However, less than six months after the change, the data collected by Marine Scotland has again determined the outcome for local waters – which Gareth claims is “flawed”.
MSP Jackie Baillie said she was disappointed with the upgrade: “I welcome the Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association’s intention to submit an appeal and I would encourage the Scottish Government to listen closely to their concerns.
“I have also asked the cabinet secretary, Roseanna Cunningham for a meeting so that she understands the injustice that would be done to local anglers if the plans go ahead.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scottish wild salmon is a valuable and important asset and Ministers are committed to protecting stocks. Marine Scotland assesses the status of stocks annually and we are now consulting on river categories for the 2018 fishing season.
“This includes a proposal to introduce mandatory catch and release at Loch Lomond. We will arrange a meeting with Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association very soon to discuss the assessment in detail.”
Catch and release Loch Lomond anglers will no longer be able to take a salmon “home for the pot”