Salmon stock concerns: club lodges complaint

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In an unprecedented move Brechin Angling Club has submitted a formal complaint to the European Commission over the Scottish Government’s failure to protect salmon stocks in the River South Esk Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

This follows the Government’s refusal to back the Esk Board’s application for conservation measures restricting netting in the spring.

The complaint, prepared by lawyer Guy Linley-Adams, cites numerous breaches by Scottish Government in relation to the requirements of the EC Habitats Directive – not only in relation to South Esk spring stocks but also later running fish that will be impacted by the proposed September netting (for which no “appropriate assessment” has yet been carried out as legally required) as well as its general failure to “establish appropriate management plans specifically designed for those SACs designated for Atlantic salmon to address the particular threat posed by mixed stock fisheries.”

Byron Pace, spokesman for Brechin Angling Club, said: “From our perspective, we could not in all good conscience sit on our hands, as the sustainable future of the South Esk came under this increased threat; to do so would have been irresponsible and unforgivable.

“Due to the Scottish Government’s dismissal of the proposed conservation measures, we have been forced to take this to Europe, in the hope we can prevent the damaging effects of increased netting on an already fragile water course.”

The complaint has been filed in conjunction with the Salmon and Trout Association and further details are available at www.salmon-trout.org

Paul Knight, S&TA CEO, commented: “We view the Esks case as a local example of a national malaise. It is indicative of a lamentable lack of political commitment to protect a wild natural resource in line with our international obligations.”