Dee salmon ban is lifted
Limited kill of fish in category switch
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