An­glers reel­ing at salmon ban

‘One­forthe­pot’pol­i­cy­changeda­gain

Lennox Herald - - NEWS - Carla Tal­bot

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”

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