Salmon at risk

The Scottish Government’s defence (“Anglers furious at ‘reckless’ plan to extend net-catching”, 15 August) of its unprecedented decision to permit coastal salmon netting south of Montrose during September, for the first time ever is yet further evidence that its policy on conserving this iconic species is 
totally inconsistent.

On the one hand, it says it “is fully committed to salmon conservation” and, on the other, it states that “no licence would be granted by us if there was evidence it would have a detrimental impact on stocks”.

Just how the granting of a 
licence to kill an additional 1,000 salmon during what has always been the close season for netting (for conservation reasons) can be deemed not “detrimental” to stocks is a clear contradiction in terms.

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Scotland, through the EU, is a signatory to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (Nasco), which requires all contracting parties to apply the precautionary approach to the management and exploitation of wild salmon.

The licensing of what is essentially a new fishery without knowing the individual river population strengths of the fish being exploited (and whether those stocks are robust enough to withstand exploitation) represents a basic negation of the precautionary principle.

This is particularly regrettable when the nearest river to the north, the South Esk, is a Special Area of Conservation for 
Atlantic salmon.

Tom Sampson

Esk Rivers and Fisheries Trust

Mains of Balgavies

By Forfar, Angus