Catch and release

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W Quarry (Letters, 26 March) aptly describes the environmental pollution caused by salmon farms that has ruined Scotland’s West Coast migratory salmon and sea trout populations. He also correctly pointed out that a range of toxic chemicals has been identified in the flesh of farmed salmon.

Predictably Dr Jaffa’s return salvo (28 March) on behalf of the salmon farmers did not attempt to dispute the evidence for Quarry’s arguments but simply attacked anglers for causing “unnecessary deaths of thousands of breeding salmon”.

This was followed by a letter from John Maclean (1 April) stating that a rod-caught salmon will probably die of exhaustion before spawning. Both assertions blatantly disregard the facts.

Anglers are acutely aware of the need for conservation, although most would prefer to take an occasional fish home for supper.

Catch and release of salmon and has been increasingly applied on rivers throughout the UK over the past decade.

Many river authorities now apply 100 per cent catch and release throughout the entire season while others apply it where conservation of salmon numbers is particularly critical such as during the spring salmon run and in hen fish in the latter part of the season.

Their data show catch and release figures ranging from 60 to 100 per cent.

Meanwhile, salmon numbers become increasingly threatened by netting at sea which continues uncontrolled and unabated, as do the lethal effects of salmon farms on migrating wild salmon and sea trout smolts. As for Mclean’s point about survival, published research by fishery biologists has shown that catch and release 
by rod anglers results in survival and normal life span in more than 95 per cent of released fish.

Debate on these serious issues is greatly to be welcomed but it would be nice if it were evidence-based.

Vaughan Ruckley

Blackbarony Road

Edinburgh

When my father came home from the war he liked nothing better than the peace and tranquillity of fishing on the river Ythan and on the Dee in Aberdeenshire.

When I was young I used to go with him and had my own rod.

Any salmon he caught he either brought home to cook or he took to the smokehouse in Aberdeen and we had them for supper or gave them to friends to enjoy.

He was W Balfour Robb OBE, chairman of the MacRobert Trust.

I agree with Dr Jaffa’s letter about salmon farms and catch and release.

Iris Balfour Robb

Bonaly Road

Edinburgh