Statement from Joan McAlpine MSP on wild fisheries regulation

Following last week's media report on the implementation of measures to conserve wild salmon, Joan McAlpine MSP issued the following statement:

"I will be deeply disappointed if these regulations are enforced in a way that threatens the unique tradition of Haaf netting on the Solway. The regulations still need to go before committees of the Scottish Parliament and enforcement is by no means a fait accompli. I know MSP colleagues are unhappy about the impact on traditional netters. I understand that ministers must meet conservation obligations but not at the expensive of our heritage - a balance has to be found.

"While a total kill ban affects anglers as well as netters on grade three rivers such as The Annan, the catch and release policy that will apply to anglers should the regulations go ahead has a 10% mortality rate. The Haaf netters argue their catch should be based on that 10% as they have zero mortality on catch and release. That seems extremely reasonable to me, especially if it preserves the tradition and generates an (albeit reduced) income for Annan's Common Good Fund.

"Angling will survive the regulations, it is this country's most popular participation sport. But if Haaf netting disappears from the waters off Annan, it disappears forever. There is such a thing as "human ecology", preserving unique aspects of our culture, and that should be taken into consideration."

Last year Ms McAlpine tabled a motion to parliament recognising the cultural importance of the unique fishing methods on the Solway and the threat posed to them. She proposed that Haaf netters be treated as a heritage fishery and protected. The motion gained cross party support. Ms McAlpine argued the same point in her submission to the consultation on fisheries regulation last year.

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