South Scotland MSP and local Councillor Colin Smyth has accused the Scottish Government of “decimating” local fishing as a result of their ban on salmon taking for every fishing method for at least a year on the River Annan and the River Nith.

The Scottish Government’s Salmon Conservation Order came into effect on April 1st and recent reports to the Annan and Dumfries Common Good Sub Committees have highlighted the massive fall in income to the Common Good funds as a result of the ban and subsequent fall in ticket sales for fishing.

At the meeting of Dumfries Common Good Committee last night (30 August) the report showed that income for the Common Good Fund had been just £7,000 so far this year up to 2 August, the peak period, compared to a five year average of around £20,000 per annum. Members of the Committee agreed unanimously to lobby the Scottish Government to lift the ban, highlighting the lack of proper scientific evidence to back up the blanket ban on salmon taking.

Colin Smyth said, “When the Scottish Government pushed through this ban they were warned it would have a decimating impact on haaf netting and angling in the Annan and the Nith. The reports to Annan and Dumfries Common Good committees show those warnings were correct. Not only have Common Good Funds seen a fall income but this ban will have an impact on other local businesses, particularly those that benefitted from tourists visiting the area to fish. What angers local people most is the fact the ban had no scientific evidence to back it up. Everyone supports proper conservation base don the facts but to achieve this the Scottish Government could have allowed electronic counting to be introduced on the rivers so they had an accurate record of the number of salmon. I suspect this would have shown an awful lot more than the figures they are basing their decision on".

“The so-called scientific study on the River Annan has also been shown to be a pre-election gimmick and in practical terms will do little to overcome the impact of the ban on the Annan”.

“We now need to up the pressure on the Scottish Government to get this ill-thought out ban lifted and put in place proper scientific research on our rivers to allow evidence based decisions to me made when it comes to conservation. ”