Nith District Salmon Fishery Board
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Nith Catchment Fishery Trust
Nith District Salmon Fishery Board
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Anglers Meet The Board

21 FEBRUARY 2013 AT 10AM
Board Attendees:-
• Percy Weatherall – Chairman
• Roderick Styles – Clerk to the Board
• Jim Henderson – Fishery Director
• Alan Bryden – Dumfries & Galloway Angling Association
• Jim Gregory – Mid Nithsdale Angling Association
• Mark Coombes – Upper Nithsdale Angling Club
• Deborah Parke – Fishery Trust
• Shona McFarlane – SEPA
• Alan Wells – Director, Association of Salmon Fishery Boards
• Toby Metcalfe – Crown Estates
Club & Association Attendees
New Cumnock A.A.
• D.Hill – Hatchery Manager
• R.Shaw – President
Upper Nithsdale A.C.
• Danny Marshal
l• Robert Houston
Mid Nithsdale A.A.
• Brian Lord
• Robert Adam
• Lenny Chambers
Dumfries & Galloway A.A.
• David Kempsell – Chairman
• Steve Oakley – Secretary
• Stewart Cameron – Committee MemberIndependent Reporter
• John Millar

The Chairman introduced himself to all and thanked everyone for attending and advised that the meeting had been called at the request of Brian Lord for and on behalf of the Clubs and Associations. Brian Lord had asked Clubs and Associations for questions on issues that were of concern to them; these had been produced, collated and passed to the Clerk.
The Chairman emphasised that this was a special meeting and that the Board must be responsive to the interests of the River. If in the future there were issues which needed to be reviewed, then the Board would make arrangements to convene such meetings in the future.
The Clerk advised that he had produced the questions and written answers for each Club and Association and then produced a summary of questions summarising all of the issues raised and all of the answers, proposing that if this was acceptable as an accurate summary discussion would follow on each question and the answers given.
Jim Henderson introduced everybody present who had attended on behalf of the Board including specifically Shona McFarlane from SEPA, Alan Wells, the Policy and Planning Director of the Association of Salmon & Fishery Board, Toby Metcalf of the Crown Estate Commissioners Fisheries Representative and John Millar, Independent Angler and Reporter.
Brian Lord offered thanks on behalf of the Mid Nithsdale Angling Association for the convening of the meeting. He was pleased to see that other Clubs had put questions together but noted specifically that whilst invited the Burgh Anglers had sent no questions in and therefore he did not consider that there was any point in asking them to send a representative.
The Chairman reported that there was no formal Agenda and proceeded to introduce the summary prepared.
Each question was discussed, reference made to the written answers and the answers were substantially expanded and elaborated upon during the course of the meeting. Questions were taken from the various representatives and answers given through the Fishery Director, Clerk, Mr Wells, Mr Metcalf and Ms McFarlane.
The meeting terminated around 12 Noon. Thanks were extended to all who had participated and taken part.
The Chairman indicated that further such meetings would be convened in the future as circumstances required.


Summary of Questions by Clubs and Associations
1. Lack of Fish of all Types
(a) Lack of summer salmon and Grilse.
• This is a problem affecting a substantial number of salmon rivers throughout the UK and all North Atlantic Salmon Rivers.
• The Icelandic grilse run collapsed in 2012. Numbers were down 25%. Rivers Spey and Dee were down in numbers by approximately the same percentage numbers.
• Most Solway rivers were substantially down. Reference made to Board circular of Sept 2012 “What is a Fishery Board” sections 6 and 7 circulated to every club and proprietor and published on the Board’s web site.
• The river surveys carried out annually show that the river continues to sustain healthy populations of juvenile salmon.
• The Board has no control over salmon, sea trout and the causes of their mortality at sea.
• It is possible that the Robin Rigg Wind Farm which became fully operational in April 2010 may be having an adverse impact on the migration of salmon and sea trout as regards age classes of juvenile smolts migrating to sea and adult fish returning to spawn. The Board made strenuous representations about its concerns at the consultation stage for the wind farm approximately ten years ago but was ignored. As the offshore wind farm section of the renewable energy market expands and proliferates there is developing widespread concern about the effects of offshore wind farms on fish and sea mammal populations as regards vibration from piling operations to secure the bases of turbines and in respect of rotation of blades and as regards electromagnetic radiation from multi kilovolt cables running across the seabed from the wind farms to their connection with the National Grid.
(b) Lack of sea trout
• Again this is a problem that is not confined to the Nith system. Numbers were up in season 2012.
• Ref Board circular referred to above.
• The Board and its Fishery Director have invested heavily in the Celtic Sea Trout Project, a three year research program covering all sea trout carrying river systems draining into the Irish Sea, based out of Bangor University. Research results will be published later this year.
• See comments above in respect of Robin Rigg.
(c) Lack of Fish entering the Tributaries.Answers
• If salmon are being lost at sea then there will be less fish entering tributaries.
• Electro fishing catch up of salmon for brood stock showed good populations of adult salmon in those tributaries that supply the hatchery.
• See comments above in respect of Robin Rigg.
(d) Lack of Salmon Parr and Minnows and Loss of Food for Them
• Reference is made to point 6 of the Board’s briefing note of September 2012.
• The Board and the Trust carry out electro fishing and kick sampling throughout the catchment. The Board has generally found healthy populations of invertebrates, fry, and other fish including minnows, stone loaches and parr throughout the river system.
• The Fishery Director invited members of D&GAA to a site of their choice on River Cairn where survey work was carried out in their presence to show the healthy presence of fry and parr and is available on reasonable notice given to demonstrate this in Mid Nithsdale waters.
• The Trust continues to monitor the populations of invertebrates that form the principal food source of fry and parr and these also are present in good numbers in areas of survey, unless survey is being undertaken to establish loss of species because of singular pollution incidents.
• The Trust circulated proprietors, clubs and associations last year in an attempt to involve people in undertaking the invertebrate kick sampling initiative2. Fishery Board Patrol Status and Poaching Activity

• See point 8 of the Board circular of Sept 2012 on numbers of bailiff staff and training levels.
• There were rumours and scares promoted by certain people throughout the river system about poaching being a problem but no hard evidence was produced to or found by Board staff.
• Only one netting incident was detected and it was leaked to the public and press well before the operation was concluded.
• The Board believes that it has adequately trained numbers of staff to deal with poaching activity.
• The Board has to strike an economic balance between paying for Bailiff staff with the money of owners and angling clubs and the actual level of poaching activity.
• The Board has made financial provision for the employment of two seasonal bailiffs for the season 2013 in addition to the volunteer trained bailiff force.
• The Board has available to it one of the largest trained bailiff forces in Scotland per linear mile.3. Board Hatchery Stocking Policy

• The Board has reviewed its stocking policy in line with the change in scientific and Scottish Government opinion in respect of salmon and sea trout hatchery operations and their impacts on river systems.
• The Board has reduced its hatchery operations and will in future raise stock for the purposes of providing compensatory restocking of salmon only into of those parts of the river system which are impacted upon by the temporary loss of naturally occurring spawning streams because of open cast coal operations and because of one off pollution incidents.
4. Catch and Release
• The Board completely revised published, distributed and instructed Board staff to encourage the adoption of its voluntary angling code in time for commencement of season 2012.
• The angling Code actively promotes the adoption of Catch and Release policy.
• The Board has been disappointed by the reaction of some proprietors (notably some angling associations) by an apparent failure to embrace the catch and release policy.
• The Board continues to review and discuss the policy.
• Over the course of the last year the Board has given consideration to promoting a petition to Scottish Government to introduce regulations to make Catch and Release policy mandatory if the agreement to observe the Angling Code to it is not embraced and observed more positively.5. Lack of Information and Communication from the Board

• Reference is made to point 10 of the Board’s September 2012 Briefing note sent to all proprietors, angling clubs and posted on the Board’s web site for information available from the Board.
• The Board is obliged to and does keep the Fishery Proprietors informed. Currently it has no legal duty to go beyond that. It is for Fishery Proprietors to keep their tenant anglers informed as they see fit.
• Notwithstanding the immediately preceding point the Board has appointed John Millar, Angler from Dumfries to produce abbreviated reports on Board meetings. It is likely that his role will develop over time. Reference is made to his first briefing note on the Board meeting of 11th December 2012 attached, published on the Board’s web site and circulated amongst interested parties.
• Given that every element of Board business is identified by agenda prior to meetings taking place, discussed in depth and then decided upon it flows from this that Board Members know what Board policy is.
• Board members who are angling club representatives are elected/co-opted to fulfil two functions, being to assist in managing the river and to advise their clubs and associations of what Board policy is.
• It is understood that the DGAA board member acquaints his committee and therefore presumably DGAA members of Board meetings, policy formation etc.
• Angling clubs and association management committees could perhaps do more to pass on information and the availability of it from the Board to its members.
• Clubs and associations are asked to review their policy of passing on information from their Board representative, and from other Board information sources to their membership and the Board requests that information as to how this is achieved is made available for discussion at the meeting.6. Pollution from Mining and Forestry and Green Sediment on River Bed

• This is a matter which falls to be dealt with by SEPA.
• The Board does not have the power to do anything directly about pollution.
• The Board staff liaises with SEPA concerning the discovery of pollution incidents.
• The Board liaises with the coal and forestry industry to ensure that best practice is observed in respect of preventing pollution entering the river system.
• Reference point 6 of the Board’s Briefing Note of September 2012 circulated to all proprietors and angling organisations.7. Netting Activity – Coastal

• There is legal netting undertaken by haaf netters and one stake netting proprietor.
• The haaf netting is undertaken responsibly and catch and release is practiced
• Netting is also undertaken for mullet, bass and flat fish.
• Bailiff staff carries out patrols on a regular basis in coastal areas.
• The Fishery Director continues to make representations to Scottish Government about the methods and types of nets used in coastal netting.
• The Fishery Director has available to him for very occasional use the services of Government fishery protection vessels and helicopters.8. Expansion and Improvement of Feeder Streams available for Spawning and Stocking/Habitat Enhancement Work

• The Fishery Trust deals with all matters of habitat enhancement work to include removal of obstructions to permit free passage of migratory fish.
• Full details of Trust activity are available on the Trust web site and by means of regular circulars and newsletters produced and distributed by the Trust.
• The Trust is in the process of finalising its review of the River Nith Catchment Fishery Management Plan, which describes works conducted from 2008-2013.9.  Impact of Aquaculture

• The Board staff keeps a watching brief on inland fish farms in order to take action on fish and disease escape.
• The Board’s Fishery Director is elected to the Executive Management Committee of ASFB and is involved with others in formulating ASFB fishery Board responses and policy to the Aquaculture industry.
• The Fishery Director has attended conferences in Edinburgh, Perth, Ireland, Wales and London relating to the development of knowledge and policy in respect of the impacts of all forms of aquaculture and high seas fishing activity that impact upon salmon and sea trout.
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