Photo 01 - Wild weather yesterday!
Response of St Mary’s Angling Club to the Wild Fisheries Review.
Relevant key recommendations on which we wish to submit comment.
Background to our response -
We are an angling club in the Scottish Borders Region whose waters are administered by the River Tweed Commission. The fish that are of interest to us are Brown Trout and Pike with Pike anglers making up to 80% of our revenue. Our Trout fishing which prior to the no stocking policy was quite good as we stocked up to 1000 Trout per season and anglers generally had some good sport.
Since that time our Trout fishing has diminished to the point where only a few committed wild Trout anglers remain and catches remain low. One of our anglers who is into his mid eighties and has fished the loch for over 70 years maintains that the current level of sport is the worst it has ever been. We have spent much money and members have given much of their free time in carrying out habitat improvements suggested by The Wild Trout Trust. Only time will tell how successful our work has been.
The Tweed foundation has concluded by analysing electrofishing results they have carried out that there is possibly a problem with fish entering the loch but at this time can offer no solutions to our problem. We have in the Tweed Foundation a biologist who looks into Trout problems but this is on a part time basis and progress is slow particularly when coupled with limited funds. We are hugely grateful for the work he has done as he is a most thorough and diligent individual but is constrained by time and resources.
We see in the Wild Fisheries review a chance to improve the current situation moving resources to cover research and investment into all species.
An all species approach to fisheries management.
With regard to increasing the focus on other species we believe this is vital. Currently and in the past the main focus of fishery boards has been directed towards Salmon. Brown Trout, Pike, Carp and other species are increasing in popularity in Scotland and therefore the revenue received from such anglers should be captured and developed. For too long species other than Salmon have been neglected as can be seen in our introduction where we have a problem but a solution is not forthcoming. We fully understand the importance of Salmon fishing to the economy and we would like to see the continuation of research to capitalise on this.
An ‘Angling for all’ programme to extend the reach of the sport;
The angling for all aim is laudable. We would welcome any initiative to increase the numbers participating in the sport. We are extremely concerned however with one aspect of current angling and that is the non regulated status of fishing guides and instructors. Research we have carried out has shown that people devoid of qualification and with dubious character are inventing themselves as bona fide fishing guides/instructors overnight! Overseas particularly in the USA one can have confidence in the system as mandatory central regulation is in place supported by the law.
This situation allows unqualified non verifiable people to be the face of angling and sets a very dangerous precedent not to mention an embarrassment to anglers countrywide! All such people must undergo statutory vetting such as full disclosure by Disclosure Scotland. If we seek credibility with anglers who pay quite often large sums of money then we owe it to them to ensure all these people have attained a suitable level of competency which is verifiable with a central body. The current situation is nothing short of a shambles and reflects very poorly on angling in Scotland.
A new National Wild Fisheries Unit within government – to give strategic direction and democratic accountability;
We are in agreement with a National Fisheries Unit. With regard to the management structure our only comment would be that localism is a good basis to progress as the River Tweed Commission demonstrates, but that all fishery boards must be accountable to the Scottish Government and through them the population as a whole. The composition of local fishery boards must include all stakeholders who have an interest in the management of the river. A governmental central co-ordinator is a sensible idea to aid an overview of the performance of the individual fishery boards. Relating to this area we would expect the current staffing level to be maintained or preferably increased.
Introduce a National Rod Licence;
The proposed rod licence will be a contentious issue among anglers with many feeling they pay enough already. We however are cognisant of the fact that improvement comes at a price! We feel that if the money raised from a licence was returned in whole back into fisheries then improvements would become apparent quicker than they would under the current arrangements.
There is an obvious danger in introducing another level of bureaucracy in collecting and administering such monies that the net amount returned to the river bank would be much less than the gross figure collected with funds being swallowed up by the mechanism of collection etc. Subject to the above being avoided by possibly using existing staff and returning such monies into all species fisheries research we are in favour of the introduction of a rod licence.
Our club like many others engage with all anglers who come to fish on our lochs. Thought should be given as whether use could be made at this interface in issuing licences to visiting anglers, most clubs have contact with all their members. The majority of licences however should be issued online or via the post offices as happens in England.
Introduce licensed rationing to deal with the problem of sustainability of stocks;
Conservation of fish stocks is at the heart of the review and rightly so, every effort must be made to conserve stocks and any measures to this end are to be welcomed. We take the view that as far as wild stocks are concerned catch and release should become the norm. If however there remains a desire by anglers to take fish then if it is judged that the fish stock can support this then the licensed rationing system would seem appropriate.
Adopt a precautionary approach to licensed rationing where there is uncertainty on the strength of stocks;
The use of caution when the status of stocks is uncertain seems a very fitting measure if conservation is to be maintained. Similarly with licensed rationing these should be issued sparingly. We see no reason why any angler cognizant of the future should disagree with such measures as proposed.
Apply a fee to cover the cost of managing the licensed rationing system.
This is absolutely essential. If the monies raised from licensing are to be fully ploughed back into frontline angling then the extra administration incurred in administering the rationing system should be recovered in full.
We believe the review to be a step forward in fisheries management which if implemented as per the proposals will present a benefit to the ordinary angler. In the present set up we are pleased with what we have in the form of the Tweed Commission and the Tweed Foundation but with the review we can aspire to better in terms of more research into other freshwater species! Everyone however must be under no illusion that improvement comes without a price, every step forward comes with a price and if as anglers we wish improvements, we must pay for them. We fully support the implementation of the review.
Our report will be sent to the Scottish Government tomorrow.
Our report will be sent to the Scottish Government tomorrow.
Photo 02 - this was as good as it got yesterday!
Yes the start of the Brown Trout season is next Sunday; doubtless there will be some Brown Trout anglers on the loch looking for some sport. Many of the long standing members have stated that early season is best for sport and with the Trout caught out of season being in great condition the pointers towards good sport are promising!
The wider world in my view!
Lord Snooty’s U turn!
In 2010 he was all for the debates now he has changed his mind and wants to impose his will on the broadcasters by having only one debate with 7 parties before the end of this month! As has been widely reported Snooty has the most to lose in such debates and this is the reason he has assumed a yellow tinge whenever the debates are mentioned.
The broadcasters however have remained resolute in that all three planned debates will go ahead with or without Lord Snooty! This may mean Milliband debating with an empty chair which would give him an outside chance of coming up tops! The topics confronting Lord Snooty would probably contain the following –
The Big Society- yes Lord Snooty’s flagship policy that was to transform the way we live our lives but shame, it seems to have sunk without a trace- Fail!
Immigration- Lord Snooty’s famous words “judge me on this policy”! yet again of course he has failed spectacularly with immigration massively up as the feckless twits ponder their next move (blunder) – Fail!
Deficit Reduction – their deadline was the end of this parliament and in this they have failed spectacularly! Their next prediction is 2018 which of course will be extended to the end of the next parliament should they gain power. They of course famously altered the method of calculating the defecit which moved the stuck record that proclaimed it had been cut by a third to the new figure of cutting it by half – Fail!
Borrowing record – naturally they were going to get borrowing down when in reality it has increased steadily to a new record high pushing the country's national debt up by 0.6 trillion pounds since 2010 – Fail!
Clamping down on tax dodgers- obviously they failed on this pledge as to implement it would have seen their pals being out of pocket to a massive extent. Of course the large conglomerates continue to flaunt the system whilst the Inland Revenue go after the real crooks the small trader who slips £50 into his back pocket – Fail!
Employment – against their rhetoric the actual situation is dire, granted employment is up but in terms of real paying jobs with a future they have achieved nothing! More working people are claiming benefits than ever before due to low wages, part time employment and zero hours contracts, it’s been a great piece of spin but as a worthwhile policy – Fail!
Benefit reforms & Bedroom Tax- they have spent billions in effect to make things worse and the irony is that there is still more to come! Yes the quiet man (IDS) has caused absolute havoc with his little thought out reforms. Thankfully the Scottish government have put paid to the Bed tax!Measures that punish those who have nothing, those who are chronically or terminally ill, and those who by the quirks of fate that confront us all find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Perhaps rather poignantly for Lord Snooty and the quiet man a newspaper scan I was sent today from the avid Tory supporting rag the Sunday Post tears the benefit reforms to shreds in a 5 page expose on people that have endured hardship using the shambolic system – Fail!
To be frank what Snooty chooses to do is up to him, but given the above maybe his stance is the right one from his perspective. Even a duffer like weak Ed Milliband would shred Snooty on the above policies! Puppet Clegg has stated his willingness to step in as Snooty’s deputy but this must not be allowed to happen! The puppets are now a minority party hated by the electorate with the SNP, UKIP and the Greens all overtaking them, the puppets are finished! The debates must go ahead and if Lord Snooty decides not to turn up then the electorate will judge him on his actions!
Good or what!
The latest polls out this week show the SNP predicted to have up to 52 of the 59 Scottish seats. Our own local puppet, Puppet Moore is also marked down as a casualty! What great news, the goal of independence is ever nearer voters should not be swayed the finish line is in sight an independent Scotland is on the horizon!