A local angler has condemned the Scottish Government for allowing record numbers of salmon to be killed in nets in the South Esk in 2013.
Bill Balfour, a member of Brechin Angling Club has criticised the lack of sensible salmon management following figures just released by the Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland) that show that the net catch in the South Esk District for last year was considerably more than double that of 2012.
He said: “The new figures of catches by the coastal nets south of Montrose make a mockery of any attempts to restore and conserve salmon in the South Esk.
“Allowing such great numbers of salmon to be killed in the local nets is contrary to any measure of sensible salmon management. Scottish Government has a case to answer.”
He added: “The South Esk is after all a Special Area of Conservation for salmon and as such it is incumbent on the authorities, not least the Government, to protect it from any over-exploitation. The current situation amounts to a fundamental derogation of duty.”
Andrew Graham-Stewart, director of the Salmon and Trout Association added: “Anglers, encouraged by Scottish Ministers, release the great majority of the salmon they catch within rivers - whilst unrestricted wholesale slaughter is sanctioned in the coastal nets.”
He said that the national figures for 2013 exposed the absurdity of recent statements by Scottish Ministers that salmon netting in Scotland was declining.
He continued: “In the last three years dormant netting stations have re-opened and netting effort has increased substantially.
“The quantum leap in the nation netting catch in 2013 - up by 50 per cent - shows once again that salmon conservation is simply absent from Scottish Government’s agenda.
“On the contrary it is permitting much greater levels of indiscriminate killing by nets of an iconic species that is already under considerable pressure.”