Troubled waters

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Dr Martin Jaffa, serial letter writer for the salmon farming industry, displays (Letters, 8 October) considerable ignorance in his attempt to show that a high catch of salmon by anglers in the “Garynahine” river in 2012 is evidence that “farmed and wild salmon can and do live in harmony”.

First of all, there is no such river as the Garynahine. Dr Jaffa actually means the River Blackwater on the west side of Lewis which flows through Garynahine Estate. Secondly, the high catch in 2012 partly reflects the fact that, because of a long dry spell, salmon were effectively trapped in the lower part of the Blackwater and thus were an easy captive audience for fishers. Furthermore, following a change of ownership and reduced prices, a far greater number of anglers were on the river in 2012.

Taking one year’s salmon rod catch in isolation is never an intelligent method of gauging salmon stocks. The naivety of such an approach is exemplified by the River Awe system in Argyll, where the number of salmon caught by anglers in 2011 was the third highest in 22 years.

Observers such as Dr Jaffa might have concluded that all was well with the Awe’s salmon population – except for the fact that the fish counter on the Awe Barrage in fact registered a run of salmon in 2011 that was 40 per cent down on the norm and was one of the lowest on record.

There is a great deal more to making credible comment on Scotland’s wild salmon runs, particularly in the context of the negative impact of salmon farming in the west Highlands and Hebrides, than playing with internet search engines in Dr Jaffa’s Manchester ivory tower.

Andrew Graham- Stewart

Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland)

Bonar Bridge, Sutherland

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