Thursday, November 25, 2010

Salmon Fishing Scotland Faroese fishermen angry about EU grant to Scottish netting company.

This is an article written by Arnot McWhinnie which is published in the Daily Record angling column this week.

Faroese fishermen angry about EU grant to Scottish netting company.

Angry Faroese fishermen are threatening to scrap the 20-year-old voluntary agreement which stopped commercial fishing for salmon in their feeding grounds in the North Atlantic.

The fishermen are furious at revelations that the one million fish they reckon they have saved for most of Scotland’s northern and east coast salmon rivers have been scooped up by Scottish mixed stocks coastal nets over the same two decades during which they exercised restraint.

Their anger was also fuelled by the awarding of an EU grant of £100,000 to the Usan Fisheries of Arbroath for the wild salmon they catch so they can be given protected status like Parma ham, champagne, or Melton Mowbray pork pies.

The mixed stock fishery, one of the biggest in Scotland, operates various netting stations along the Angus coast, and on its website boasts: “The "wild" salmon and sea trout we catch are the harvest of some of Eastern Scotland's most famous salmon rivers including the mighty Tay, South Esk, North Esk, Dee and Don.”

The Faroese wrote to Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, last week warning him that they might start up fishing again, and adding: “In effect every fish we saved was killed in Scotland by netsmen. This means that all the efforts of our Faroese longliners have been utterly in vain and a total waste of time, money, and effort”.

They further warned Mr Salmond that if their “quite rightly appalled” fishermen began their operation again: “Your netsmen will soon find that they have few fish to catch, and Scotland’s multi million pound sporting salmon fishing industry will be damaged beyond repair.”

The letter also challenged the First Minister: “Unless you wish to be remembered as the man who stood idly by as a great Scottish resource was ruined, we urge you to help stop the netting of wild salmon in Scottish waters before it is too late”

The furious Faroese also reminded Mr Salmond that the Scottish Government paid nothing towards the cost of buying out the North East English drift nets which was borne by a lot of international and private UK money,

It added: “It is high time that that Scotland ended its liking for this kind of free ride. We are driven to ask whether the Scottish authorities have done anything meaningful to enhance salmon stocks and rebuild the sustainability of Scottish salmon.

“The answer must be a resounding no”.

The Atlantic Salmon Trust has written a letter of protest to the Scottish Government about the £100,000 grant to Usan Fisheries, pointing out that mixed stock fisheries are considered to be “inappropriate” by the European Commission.

The Trust received a reply saying their objections were “inadmissible”.

Within the last few days wild Atlantic salmon champion, Orri Vigfusson, who spearheaded the move to halt salmon fishing in their feeding grounds off the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland, has also joined in the condemnation.

He wrote to Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Government Minister for Rural Affairs pointing out that Scotland is the only EU member state operating a policy of mixed stock salmon fishing killing fish spared by other nations.

He stated: “These nations have voluntarily agreed to a moratorium on the netting and long-lining of wild salmon in order to allow more salmon to return to their natural spawning grounds.

“Scotland, on the other hand, seems to be unable to grasp the obvious. The indiscriminate netting by Scottish netsmen produces a poor economic return from what should be one of Scotland’s most valuable resources.

“In addition to the needless damage done by commercial netting the poorly regulated fish farming industry has accelerated a decline in the stocks of wild salmon. Some would say that in this respect Scotland has a very impressive record of thoughtless economic and environmental vandalism.

“The recent award of yet another huge EU grant to Scotland’s salmon netsmen raises a question. Why are you so intent on supporting a dying netting industry, especially when that industry is wrecking what remains of the wild stocks of salmon in so many rivers?

“The Atlantic’s salmon stocks are international and need to be managed through international cooperation. But I assure you, Minister, I speak for many other salmon nations when I say we are appalled at having to witness the continuation of a Scottish salmon policy that has so little regard for the future.”

Speaking personally I, too am appalled, as every angler should be, by these revelations and intend making my views known to Alex Salmond and Richard Lochhead. If you want to make your views known, e-mail them at

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