Friday, January 20, 2012

Salmon Fishing Scotland Conflict on the river Tay.

Salmon Fishing Scotland Conflict on the river Tay.

Whitewater rafters vow to fight ban on using top salmon river.

A sheriff ruled adventure river sports pose an 'unreasonable interference' with anglers' rights.

An adventure company has vowed to appeal a ruling which banned whitewater rafting from one of Scotland's top salmon rivers.

Anglers, including the 150-strong Aberfeldy Angling Club, have won a legal bid to limit the time rafters can use a stretch of the River Tay in Highland Perthshire.

At Perth Sheriff Court on Thursday, sheriff Michael Fletcher ruled that whitewater rafters posed "an unreasonable interference with the rights of anglers".

Adventure sports on the river will be banned on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday every week during the salmon season, a decision which companies say will cost jobs.

Jason Mason-Strang, of adventure company Nae Limits, said moves to challenge the ruling overturned were already under way.

He said: "We are taking legal advice at present because we feel this process has not been conducted in a fair manner.

"For many years, rafting groups and anglers and landowners have been able to sit around the table and discuss possible agreements about use of the river and about conduct and behaviour.

"Yes, the talks have not always been easy but we have managed to discuss things and try to find workable solutions. This has not happened at all here.

"We were given no opportunity to defend ourselves or discuss the issues and the repercussions for the area, employment-wise will be significant."

In their legal action, anglers argued: "The River Tay is the premier angling river in Scotland.

"Salmon fishing rights are, and have long been, a valuable property right in Scotland. Both the pleasure to be obtained from the fishing, and the value of these rights, are substantially dependent on the quality of the fishing and on the peace and quiet of the river environment.

"They are reduced if the fishing is disturbed. There has long been some use of the river by canoeists and kayakers; unlike rafters such users retain control of their vessels and are generally respectful of the rights of others."

Rafters and anglers reached an agreement about river usage in 1994 but the number of rafts increased and the agreement broke down, according to court papers.

In recent years the river could be used by up to 70 rafts in one morning, anglers say.

The new decision will cut the number of days rafting can be done on the river from 365 to 248 in a year.

Mr Mason-Strang said: "We have trained our staff with a strict code of conduct which takes into account the rights of other river users.

"It has taken us lots of talking to the fishing groups to have them operate anything near similar standards.

"This part of the story has not been told. All we are looking for is an opportunity to speak up on behalf of our industry, our customers and employees who will have their jobs threatened."

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