As many members will be aware Marine Scotland have recently announced the revised categorisations for individual river systems around Scotland. Once again catch return data has been pivotal in determining classification and the Lomond system has been judged to be a category 3, not because of catch levels across the entire Lomond catchment but because of the perceived lack of catches on a single tributary, the Endrick. To be clear on this, it is only because the Endrick is located within a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and has allegedly not reached a 60% likelihood of attaining the conservation limit that the whole of the Loch Lomond system has been classed as category 3 and in need of 100% catch and release.
This is a spectacular case of the tail wagging the dog, however, we are not alone in being disadvantaged in this way as the Ness system has also fallen foul of such a ruling.
So what will your committee do now? Already we have questioned the validity of the wetted area calculation. It will no doubt have come as a surprise to all our members that according to Marine Scotland the Endrick has salmon lochs! This shows how suspect the calculation of the wetted area has been. In addition we have repeatedly pointed out that the Association only owns or leases around 40% of the fishing on the Endrick, it does not access the remaining 60%. This is important because it would appear that the percentage likelihood of adhering to the conservation level on the River Endrick has been calculated using our catch returns alone. Finally what account has been taken of the spate nature of the river? If there is no water then the runs of fish destined for the Endrick will sit tight in Loch Lomond. Over the last 2 years we have had no meaningful water until the last 2 weeks of the fishing season and our catches were consequently depressed. This year there has been more water and surprise, surprise our catches have been far healthier.
Any reasonable person reading the above would I believe come to the conclusion that the Marine Scotland methodology is hopelessly inaccurate and the resultant figures about likelihood of adherence to the conservation limit extremely unsafe and not fit for purpose. Furthermore, we have the full support and backing of the loch Lomond Fisheries Trust (LLFT) in challenging the grade 3 categorisation.
On the 21st of September representatives from the Association and the LLFT will meet with representatives from the Salmon and Recreational Fisheries team as well as Marine Scotland to discuss the categorisation of the Endrick. We believe that common sense can yet prevail.
In the interim we would ask that all members write to the salmon and recreational fisheries team at firstname.lastname@example.org to express their objection of the categorisation of the Endrick and appeal the current ruling. The future of your club is in your hands please make sure that you take the time to do something positive about this unjust and unfair state of affairs and voice your objections before the close of date of 29 September 2016.
A full update on this issue together with an assessment of where our future lies (or doesn’t lie) in relation to the formation of a FMO network across Scotland will be published in late October.