Dee salmon ban is lifted

Lim­ited kill of fish in cat­e­gory switch

The Galloway News - - NEWS - Stephen Nor­ris

A ban on an­glers killing salmon on the River Dee is to be lifted for the 2019 sea­son.

The river had been sub­ject to a strict “catch and re­lease” pol­icy un­der Scot­tish Govern­ment reg­u­la­tions in­tro­duced in 2016.

But new grad­ings pro­posed for 2019 have listed the Dee as cat­e­gory two – which per­mits the lim­ited tak­ing of salmon.

Pre­vi­ously the river was cat­e­gory three un­der a sys­tem de­signed to con­serve de­clin­ing wild fish stocks.

The clas­si­fi­ca­tion means all fish must be re­turned un­harmed.

The cat­e­gory two rank­ing still strongly rec­om­mends an­glers, as­so­ci­a­tions and river man­agers con­tinue with catch and re­lease.

The Gal­loway Fish­eries Trust, which op­er­ates a Scot­tishPowerowned fish counter at Tong­land dam, ex­pressed some sur­prise at the move.

Se­nior bi­ol­o­gist Jamie Ribbens said: “Have stocks on the Dee imp- roved re­ally so much? Is it right to sug­gest they are at a level where you can start killing fish again?

“Since the con­trol mea­sures came in the Dee has al­ways been a three. There­fore this change would im­ply the fish pop­u­la­tion has im­proved and in­creased.”

The trust would make rep- re­sen­ta­tions to the govern­ment, Mr Ribbens said. Its con­sul­ta­tion on salmon con­ser­va­tion runs un­til Novem­ber 23.

He added: “Un­til now we have sup­ported the three grad­ing on the Dee be­cause salmon stocks on were cer­tainly need­ing pro­tec­tion.

“So we need to look into why the Scot­tish Govern­ment is sug­gest­ing it should be a cat­e­gory two river.”

Else­where in Gal­loway, it is pro­posed the Cree at New­ton Ste­wart keeps its “sus­tain­able” cat­e­gory one sta­tus and the Urr its two grad­ing.

A manda­tory catch and re­lease pol­icy will con­tinue on the Blad­noch, at Wig­town, and the Fleet as both re­main cat­e­gory three.

Na­tion­ally, the pro­posed grad­ings could mean salmon be­ing caught and kept on 34 more of Scot­land’s 173 salmon rivers next year.

En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Roseanna Cun­ning­ham said: “Num­bers are still on a down­ward trend so there’s no room for com­pla­cency.

“Care­ful man­age­ment and co­op­er­a­tion is needed to en­sure we pro­tect this species for the fu­ture.”

Ques­tions Jamie Ribbens

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