The Ones That Got Away. for Good; Anglers Claim Wild Fish Face Extinction as Officials Stand by and Do Nothing to Stop It

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), April 18, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Ones That Got Away. for Good; Anglers Claim Wild Fish Face Extinction as Officials Stand by and Do Nothing to Stop It


Byline: FIDELMA COOK

WILD salmon and sea trout face almost certain extinction in Scotland and officials are doing nothing to halt the decline, according to anglers.

Results of the first survey carried out amongst the country's 35,000 game fishermen shows the overwhelming majority believe Government and environmental regulators have completely failed to protect wild fish.

Most respondents called for the immediate resignation of Fisheries Minister Lord Sewel.

The survey, to be published this week in the influential Fly-Fishing and Fly-Tying magazine, was conducted through clubs of the Scottish Anglers' National Association - the governing body for the sport in Scotland.

Author and wild fish conservationist Bruce Sandison, who instigated the questionnaire, said last night: 'It's a damning report. It clearly shows that in tackling the decline of Scottish wild fish Lord Sewel does not have the confidence of anglers and is failing in his responsibility to protect these species, which have survived for 10,000 years. Unless something is done fast they are facing extinction.' Enthusiasts blame disease and the escape of farmed fish as the major cause in the decline of wild stocks. Salmon numbers are now at their lowest level since accurate recording began in 1952.

Conservationists claim that allied to a gradual decline there has been a 'catastrophic' collapse in West Highland fish numbers following the introduction of fish farming in the 1970s.

Sea-trout stocks in some West Highland rivers and lochs have fallen by as much as 90 per cent.

In the survey, 70 per cent of anglers said they believed research work carried out by Government fishery scientists into the decline had been a waste of taxpayers' money. Despite months of investigation into the cause of the killer disease infectious salmon anaemia, which has been confirmed on ten farms and left a further 15 in quarantine, scientists have failed to find the source of the outbreak. …

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