New fisheries law comes in to play

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The new Aquaculture and Fisheries Act came into law last week and it is hoped that will much reduce the environmental impact on fish farming operations on the West Coast of Scotland.

Recognising the much reduced stock of salmon and sea trout in our western waters, many organisations are more than a bit disappointed that submissions made during the consultation period have been disregarded and that what we have got is rather a watered down document.

It seeks to empower the Government and its agencies to observe a material improvement in the situation regarding sea lice etc. Getting these applied will require new positions to be recruited in order to police and review the fish farming industries and to see that the legislation is properly applied, I for one will be watching and listening for such improvements from the industry.

Meantime S@TA led by Hugh Campbell Adamson are fighting on another front accusing the industry of publishing questionable data regarding the density of sea lice in the vicinity of the fish farms and the Industry (SSPO) Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation is fighting back with contrary allegations. This too and fro has been going on for far too long and only studies by an organization free from bias agreed and paid for by both parties would seem to be the way ahead, but I expect that fear may dominate the chance of such an agreement.

SANA (Scottish Anglers National Association) meantime have upset the operators of commercial rafting in Scotland by suggesting that they are causing loss of income to river proprietors and in rare instances of verbal abuse by the rafters of anglers who have paid to fish in rivers who’s fishing rights are privately owned. In some instances the fisheries of rivers such as the Tummell in Perthshire have become useless with all kinds of “Water Sports” making angling impossible.

SANA have also reminded the Government that they must take more regard to the huge catches of Mixed Stock Fisheries. This strikes at home for us on the South Esk where we bear the enormous burden of Usan Fisheries at Usan and Lunan Bay and this is compounded by the river being a site for the conservation of Atlantic Salmon and Freshwater Mussels. This is a situation where regulation is being ignored and the time has come for action.

Tight lines, Bill Balfour.