Nith District Salmon Fishery Board
River Nith
Nith Catchment Fishery Trust
Nith District Salmon Fishery Board
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The Nith



Nith District Salmon Fishery Board has been in existence for 150 years and over that period has managed stocks of salmon and sea trout within the catchment of the River Nith and its seaward jurisdiction. Despite the minor imperfections of the Scottish Fishery Board system, it has served the Nith well. Whilst today the Board may be frustrated with the bureaucracy of modern fisheries management involving Scottish, English and European governments and their administrations, it is a very different situation from that which the Board faced in the early 1900s.

Knowledge of the environmental requirements to sustain migratory salmonid species was in its infancy and concerns for water quality and the need for fish to access the spawning grounds took a lower priority to commerce and food production. Indeed Calderwood, the Inspector of Salmon Fisheries for Scotland wrote in “The Salmon Rivers & Lochs Of Scotland” published in 1909, “the catch of salmon by both net and rod is now a mere bagatelle. In 1905 the rod catch did not yield, I suppose, 2 score. In 1902 it did not make one score and in 1908, I believe it to be 22 fish”.

The practise of discharging raw sewage into the river was stopped and many of the industrial process associated with the mills around Dumfries ceased with their closing. A better understanding of conservation and the requirement to allow for escapement to ensure that spawning potential was maximised was a key factor in the negotiation of the cessation of netting in the Caul pool in Dumfries. The committee of the Nith Fishings Improvements Association were pivotal in many of the initiatives to improve the river and its stocks of fish during this period.

In its more modern history in the 1980s, the Nith had the unenviable reputation as one of the most heavily poached rivers in Scotland and Dumfries seemed to be the breeding ground for the perpetrators of this crime. Again the management of the river met the challenge by the District Salmon Fishery Board raising the finance to combat the poaching activity and suppress the loss of illegally taken fish. The Board diversified its efforts in the 1990s under the Chairmanship of Mr Peter Kennedy and invested in management initiatives including habitat enhancement, obstacle removal, hatchery production and conservation.

Many of these important fishery management initiatives which are on the periphery of the Board’s statutory functions and work are now undertaken by the recently formed Nith Catchment Fishery Trust. The formation of the Trust has enabled fisheries management within the Nith to extend into areas such as education and the control of alien species and of course, to include all of the fresh water species which co- exist with the migratory salmonid species.

The Board and Trust work closely together to ensure that the river and the species which reside within it continue to thrive and that fisheries within the catchment are sustained.

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