Which Party Line?

‘Casting’ your vote carefully will make a difference!

The Scottish Parliamentary Elections are coming up on the 5th May. So, what would we like to see from the new Scottish Government? Here are some of the issues that should be raised with any prospective candidates who come knocking at your door:

  1. Aquaculture 1. Fish Farming is recognised as providing an important food source in the UK and a significant export for Scotland. The farms are located mainly on the West Coast and Islands of Scotland. Currently there are serious problems with the control of sea lice at the fish farms which can adversely affect wild stocks of salmon and sea trout. If your party is successful in forming the new government will it address these proven and documented issues within the first six months of Parliament?
  2. Aquaculture 2. The location and type of Fish Farm enclosures do not control waste and sea lice which fall through the netting structure of the pens. The locations are often in estuaries where the migration of sea trout and/or salmon smolts is affected. We do not ask that these operations are shut down, however, they should be located away from sensitive areas and of a design capable of containment of waste matter and detritus. Will you similarly address this urgent matter before further damage is caused to the iconic wild salmon and sea trout, so important to the economy and employment in these rural areas?
  3. Mixed Stock Fisheries. The indiscriminate killing of fish in coastal Mixed Stock Fisheries is accepted internationally as poor management practice, as it is impossible to tell from which river each fish originates, therefore making efficient management of individual river stocks impossible. These netting operations could therefore decimate fragile stock levels in different rivers. The Scottish MSF Working Group issued their report more than 12 months ago. No action has been taken so far. Will you make sure the recommendations are acted upon urgently?
  4. Smolt Predation. It is widely recognised that the predation by sawbill ducks on salmon and sea trout smolts is having a major impact on wild fish stocks in some fisheries. Will you and your party commission proper co-ordinated research into this impact, and introduce appropriate management policies which protect all species within ecosystems?

We believe that if the new Government can address these four issues, then wild salmon and sea trout stocks, vital components of Scotland’s natural resources, will increase significantly. West coast rivers will, in time, recover, attracting back the angling tourists who contribute so much to the economy of local, often remote, communities, providing jobs and financial security for hundreds of local people.

If these issues are important to you, then please ask your prospective parliamentary candidates if they and their party will be addressing them in the next six months

We have to keep pushing these issues as time is running out for the fish, for us and for our children.

S&TA, Scottish Working Group, May 2011.