Anglers lose out in fight to conserve Tay salmon

A A A

For generations, the Tay was without peer as a salmon river. Every season, the king of fish returned; every year, skilled anglers pitted their wits against it.

Declining populations of the wild fish, though, have devastated Scotland's reputation as the place to catch it. And now a further blow appears destined to finally wreck anglers' dreams of landing salmon on the banks of the Tay.

Rules announced this week will force them to pay between £50 and £400 a day for access to the Scottish river's banks – and for that they will not be allowed to take home more than one fish a day.

These drastic measures have been brought in following years of plunging salmon stocks. Anglers had pointed out the stocks had stabilised recently, but conservationists argue that the population is not increasing sufficiently.

Anglers have been able to take home half of all the fish they caught. Under the new regulations, they will also have to return to the water the first fish they catch, which will force some to go home empty-handed.

This rethink of angling policy has been introduced by a coalition of organisations in the area which wanted to address the declining salmon population before the start of the fishing season tomorrow.

Further measures will be taken when the breeding period begins in June, when enthusiasts will be prohibited from removing female salmon, as it is at this time they carry eggs. And from June, all fish weighing more than 15lbs will have to be returned.

Arguments continue about exactly why the wild salmon is in decline, with some people blaming poaching and over-fishing, while others suggest that global warming has been a factor.

The salmon farming sector is also at the heart of the arguments. Indeed, many anglers claim fish farming has harmed the ecosystem, while they have striven to protect it.

The Association of Salmon Fishery Boards, Scotland's salmon angling regulator, has described the urgent need for conservation. It says that in order to preserve the long-term future of the fish in Scotland, tough measures will need to be taken.

The Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board, the Tay Foundation and the Tay Ghillies Association are jointly responsible for the fishing clampdown.

Duncan Glass, secretary of the Tay Ghillies Association, said: "The catch-and-release policy will be far more strict this year. The general rule will be just one fish to take home per day. Then from June, you will be expected to return all hen fish and all fish over 15lbs so that bigger fish have a better chance of returning." The problem faced by decision makers was balancing the conservation needs of the area with the economic necessity of attracting the tourism that angling brings to the region.

"We don't want to chase anglers away to places like Norway and Russia, so if we allow them to take one fish home that's something," said Mr Glass.

Despite previously attempting various catch-and-release measures in the region, enforcing the rules has proved challenging. "We have had a catch-and-release policy in place before but there has been too much slackness in enforcing it," said Mr Glass. "The first year, only 10 per cent were returned, and even though it is now 50 per cent, it is behind other rivers."

More fish are killed on the Tay every year than any other salmon river in the UK, which is alarming conservationists. Campaigners say that even a slight improvement to the numbers of fish returned could make a substantial difference. "If we can get the rate up to 75 per cent then that will be a real achievement," said Mr Glass.

The president of the Scottish Anglers' National Association, Ronnie Picken, was sceptical of what lasting effect the regulations would have on Scotland's dedicated anglers.

"There will always be some fishermen who have fished all their lives and taken what they liked", said Mr Picken. "I doubt that will change whatever restrictions are brought in".

Suggested Topics
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links