Tensions as well as fish hovered beneath the surface as Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, presided over the opening of the salmon season on the river Tay at Dunkeld last week.
Hugh Campbell Adamson, chairman of the Salmon & Trout Association (Scotland), expressed surprise that Salmond had been chosen to open the Tay season in what he described as a “politically charged atmosphere”, with the referendum on independence later this year and concerns running high over government proposals for radical land reform (News, 15 January).
Salmond used the opportunity to announce an independent review of wild fisheries management in Scotland, to be led by outgoing Scottish Natural Heritage chairman Andrew Thin.
A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) said that gillies in the north and west of the country hoped that the review would tackle the sea lice problem, which they felt the government had failed to do. Sharing the gillies concern about sea lice, protesters from Project Wild Scotland held banners bearing the slogan “Lousy Salmond”.
Earlier in the week, the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) called for a moratorium on killing salmon in Scotland’s rivers until 15 May to preserve spring stocks, asking anglers to use catch-and-release only. The ASFB’s request was met with stiff opposition from the Salmon Net Fishing Association of Scotland (SNFAS), whose members also voted last November to bring an end to agreements to delay the start of the net fishing by six weeks (see News, 27 November).