There was delight when the Esk District Salmon Board revealed, at its annual general meeting last week, details of the Scottish Government proposals to top all netting of salmon in coastal waters next year.
The South Esk, once a prolific salmon river, has been suffering from reduced runs of these fish from the sea, and this has coincided with an increase in netting.
Bill Balfour, Brechin Advertiser’s fishery correspondent, said: “As Brechiner readers will know, I have for many years complained about the lack of control of these nets. We anglers are putting nearly all our fish back, if we are lucky enough to catch one, yet at the same time the netsmen are slaughtering thousands.
‘‘While anglers have to continue to play their part in conservation, I believe that at last there is a positive future for our salmon, and for the South Esk.”
Hughie Campbell Adamson, past chairman of the Board, and long time campaigner for the reduction in netting added: “This has been a 20 year struggle. Once it was obvious that the numbers of salmon returning from the sea was dropping, we have been arguing that we must not kill so many. The anglers have done their bit, by returning unharmed many of the fish they catch, but the netsmen would not listen. Their refusal to accept the evidence of reduced runs, their refusal to compromise on their rights to kill as many as they can, left us in Angus with no choice but to apply for protection. Whilst the Government may have been slow to react, we applaud them for now taking action and giving these wonderful fish a fighting chance. ”
It is estimated that salmon and seatrout angling in Angus is worth over £4,000,000 to the local economy, and many hotels and guesthouses rely on sportsmen for clients.
David Howatson, proprietor of the Finavon Hotel says: ‘‘With the well publicised problems of over netting now hopefully behind us, we welcome the prospect of anglers returning in greater numbers to fish the South Esk. Their presence is vital for the tackle shops, for the employment of ghillies and of course for hotels such as mine.”