Proposals On The Future Direction of the Association
As far as your Committee are concerned the primary aim of the Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association(LLAIA) is, and will remain, the improvement of the fishing in the Loch Lomond system. We are committed to taking all such actions that may be necessary or advisable to secure the improvement of the fishing in the waters owned or leased by the Association. There are certain key areas of business that we will seek to prioritise this year and in the years to come, if we are provided with the backing of the members. These priorities are as follows:
1) Continue to enhance the fishing environment for all our members
There has been a large amount of work undertaken on the upper Endrick of late, which has allowed better access to this water for our members. In particular, stiles and bridges now enable our less mobile anglers to fish this water from Fintry down to Honeyholm Bridge. Looking ahead, we wish to continue to improve the lower portions of the Endrick that we own or lease as well as upgrading the Fruin to the same standard.
That is not all we want to do though. We are keen to tackle access issues on the River Leven. Thanks to the presence of the tow path, we feel it could be developed into the best restricted mobility salmon fishery in the UK. This would include the reinstatement of steps into the river and the re-construction of casting platforms on certain sections. Not only would this enhance our fishery, it is hoped that it would also attract anglers from out with the area who could potentially benefit the local economy.
2) Work towards improving our understanding of the fishery and use this information to help improve our stocks
Over the last 6 weeks volunteers have been working on a daily basis on the smolt trap on the River Endrick.The information that we have obtained is helping to provide crucial data about the health of our fishery, building on much good work that was undertaken in the past. We, as a Committee, are keen to move this forward. This year we wish to survey the burns that run directly into the River Leven as well as some of the burns that feed the Loch. These results will not just sit in a file. They will be used to address outstanding issues in these tributaries that were once key spawning areas.
We are also looking to support the Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust (LLFT) in tackling the Invasive Non Native Species (“INNS Project”) that have colonised the banks of the River Endrick. This is not just an Endrick problem. If we do not take action it will become a system wide problem as we can already see on some sections of the River Leven.
We also wish to obtain permission to control certain predators that are decimating our stocks of juvenile fish. A recent survey on the Endrick identified over 60 gooseanders in a 4 hour period. Research indicates that these birds can eat anything up to 5 juvenile fish per day. We also need to curtail the mink population. They are not only predating on our fish but they are killing the birds and mammals that enhance our fishing experience.
3) Act robustly when it comes to tackling pollution incidents and the impact of sudden water drops on the River Leven
We have established excellent working relationships with SEPA and have been involved in highlighting issues on most of our major tributaries as well as the River Leven. As recently as Thursday last week we were involved in alerting the authorities to a significant pollution scare on the Leven involving a hydrocarbon slick that ran for over a mile. We want to be able to continue to tackle pollution incidents quickly no matter where they occur.
We also were on hand to record a major juvenile fish kill on the River Leven last month. This occurred when the gates to the barrage were raised too quickly. Potentially thousands of fry could be stranded together with lampreys and invertebrates that the juvenile fish feed on. We will be making representation on this matter to Scottish Water in the near future.
4) Continue to develop and enhance our bailiffing operation
We will continue to drive joint approaches to tackling poaching and will be working with various partners in the coming months on this matter.
5) Represent the Association’s Interests in the Wild Fisheries Review
With the creation of the Wild Fisheries Review Group there are clear challenges ahead for fishing associations and clubs such as our own which manage salmon and sea trout fisheries. The Chair of this body, Andrew Thin, has invited anyone with an interest in wild fisheries to provide written evidence to the group. To help protect your interests your Committee has requested and been given stakeholder status. We will be invited to a forthcoming discussion that will take place in June in an attempt to look after your interests in this matter. There are several challenges not the least of which is the proposal by some, in other parts of the country, to adopt a 100% catch and release policy across Scotland.
Information on the call for evidence and the Group can be found at www.scotland.gov.uk/wildfisheriesreview.
So bearing the above in mind, how would you rather the Committee spent our time? As you can see we are focused clearly on improving the system, protecting our interests and trying to deliver an acceptable future for our members. We now feel it is important this strategy is endorsed by our members.
Additionally I would like to add that nowhere in the above list of priorities will you find any mention of spending time chewing over past conflicts. Far too much energy has been wasted on this already. The decision taken to honour a promise made at the 2009 EGM subsequent to any challenge made by members was made in good faith. As that decision is now in the process of being actively challenged by certain individuals the Committee have decided to call an EGM in early June to seek ratification of (1) our strategy for moving forward and (2) the decision to honour the 2009 EGM promise. Members will be provided with further details in the next 7 / 10 days.