SCOTLAND’S world-famous “queen” of salmon rivers is being fished to extinction, according to its ghillies, who are pleading with its fisheries board to implement new laws to save its depleted fish stocks.
Anglers from across the world have flocked to Perthshire for decades to fish for Atlantic salmon in Scotland’s longest and most renowned river, the Tay.
But the Tay Ghillies Association has revealed it has been “a dreadfully poor salmon fishing season”, with catches down by 50 per cent and expected to fall even further next season. The association accuses the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board of ignoring a number of warning signs.
A spokesman for the Tay Ghillies Association said: “The annual catch numbers on the River Tay this year with rod and line will not amount to any more than 6,000 fish. The Dee, which is a fraction of the size of the Tay, with a fraction of the anglers, are set to do 5,000.”
However, David Summers, of the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board, said: “The idea that the Tay has completely collapsed is grossly overblown.”
He said the policy of catch-and-release needed strengthening, adding: “For next season we are advocating that, in the spring, you must put back the first fish every day and you may keep the next one.
“We currently ask that anglers not fish with worms before the end of May and certainly not in September and October. However, we are reviewing this policy.”
In Scotland, 85,901 salmon were reported caught in 2006, with 47,471 – 55 per cent of the total catch – being released.