A row has broken out over the prospect of the reopening of commercial salmon netting on the River Ythan.
Anglers have expressed alarm following the recent announcement that netting rights have been acquired by Montrose-based Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd in and just outside the River Ythan estuary.
Aberdeen and District Angling Association (ADAA) president Bob Dey said: “Our concern is that the Ythan’s fragile stocks of salmon and sea trout, which our members have cherished and protected for decades, will be decimated by indiscriminate and unrestricted killing.
“It is deplorable, in this day and age, that netting interests can come in and rip the heart out of what has been carefully nurtured for the benefit and enjoyment of so many.”
However, he added that their main argument was with the Scottish Government who, he claimed, had “woefully failed” to legislate to halt coastal netting of Atlantic salmon and sea trout.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish Ministers would, of course, be concerned to learn of any activity that would threaten the sustainability of salmon and sea trout stocks and the wider ecosystem of the Ythan.
“We encourage the Ythan Fishery Board, in line with their statutory responsibilities, to monitor the impact of any new fisheries on stocks and to explore conservation measures as an option if evidence suggests these are necessary.”
Usan Salmon Fisheries director George Pullar said at the time of the netting rights announcement: “Given our long association with wild salmon and sea trout in Scotland, we look forward to managing these long-established rights, in a sustainable manner, working in partnership with the angling community to open up access opportunities for anglers of all ages and backgrounds.
“We believe that salmon angling should be open to all members of society. To that end, the angling fishery will continue to be open to the public going forward from this year.”