The problem of predators

THE start of a new season for anglers will no doubt bring the problem of avian predators to the fore once more.

Despite continued lobbying of Scottish MSPs and others this subject seems to be one for them to ignore.

Let me remind them, it won’t go away, it is a disgrace and the longer it continues to be ignored, the shorter the time before fisheries become uneconomic and more recreation jobs will cease to be.

Have they no idea of what it feels like to stock lochs and reservoirs simply to feed birds who have been driven from their natural habitat by over fishing and bad legislation in the marine environment.

It simply cannot go on. Yes we all know that licences are given to Fisheries Boards to shoot cormorants, etc. but to cull one bird from a roost of say seventy birds makes no sense at all.

In the absence of these stocked and managed fisheries it is not untrue to say that these birds (cormorants, mergansers and goosander) would be facing an unsure future.

I ask, just why are these birds due a greater conservation status than the Atlantic salmon, the sea trout, and the famed brown trout of Scotland.

Scottish tourism and indeed the Scottish economy rely on these fish for an enormous contribution both monetary and through thousands of jobs.

People travel from all over the world to fish our famous rivers (i.e. Tay, Tweed, Dee, Spey and our two Angus Esks) but this potential income is already in huge decline and waning ever faster.

I agree that people get great satisfaction from observing these birds, but they have no predators, and exist in huge numbers on the shore, but they now roost in huge numbers on lochs like Leven, Lintrathen, Rescobie and even at Loch Saugh in the foothills of the Grampian Mountains where Brechin anglers pay for their food.

The fact is also that birds have a massive lobby, and that government listen to them while the angling lobby is less and at present seems to be being ignored.

All anglers should be asking the question of their local MPs. Why are we being ignored on this predation issue?

Why are birds protected at a different level from fish?

And, when are you going to do something about it.

There is an election in a few weeks so you anglers ask when the candidates arrive on your doorstep and use your influence to bring this imbalance to their notice.

It is quite possible that they are completely ignorant of the facts.

Tight Lines,

Bill Balfour.