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Old 27th February 2015, 22:41
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Default Seeking Justice for Illegal salmon netting

A friend sent me this post from another forum. Letter templates are available from me. PM me with your email address to get copies which you can adapt to suit your own style and content.

Usan Salmon Fishings - Let's begin the fightback, gentlemen
Please take time to read through and act upon this post, gentlemen

I am writing this post because I am an angler of 55 + years' experience. I am also a Queen's Counsel and have practised in the Scottish courts for about 42 years. I know how things work in the courts, which is why I am writing this post.

Let me start with a quotation at page 76 of the March 2015 issue of Fly Tying & Fly Fishing:

"The main thing is that we want to engage in the process so that there is a reasonable outcome for all parties. We all want a sustainable future, all sides, both rods and nets."

This is from a George Pullar of Usan Salmon Fishings.

A second quotation, in the same article, from Dr. Aileen McLeod, the Scottish government minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform:

"Salmon is a protected species under the Habitats Directive and we need to ensure that killing by any means is sustainable."

NOW please let me take you to page 38 of the March edition of Trout & Salmon.

"At Forfar Sheriff Court on 28th January [Usan Salmon] pleaded guilty to netting outside permitted hours during 2013. It also pleaded guilty to charges for similar offences in 2014. The law requires that in the interests of conservation, no netting occurs between 6 pm on Fridays and 6 am on Mondays. Hughie Campbell-Adamson, chairman of Salmon & Trout Association (Scotland) said: 'Such activity amounts to wildlife crime - pure and simple. Salmon runs are severely depleted. It is more important than ever that those with netting rights exercise them responsibly. Maximising illegal exploitation by systematically ignoring the weekly close time is indefensible.'

Usan will be sentenced after a mitigation hearing on March 31st."

Now, the first point I want to make is this: it is likely that the procurator fiscal appearing for the prosecution will know very little, if anything at all, about netting. And there is a good chance that he will have his mind on some quite serious cases where injury has been caused by criminal means to some human being. Now, I don't have a problem with this: there is too much brutal violence abroad in society today. But the procurator fiscal needs our help, whether she knows it or not. So let us all resolve to write to her, for if she receives an avalanche of letters she will in all probability tell the court about the public concern about these offences as expressed in these letters. I can assure cynical posters on this Board that this sort of pressure does work.

The second thing is this: it is Usan Salmon, a company, which is being prosecuted, not any individual. Now this poses a real difficulty as far as the effect of any sentence imposed is concerned. Fines on a company are recoverable by a process known as civil dilidgence. It is a ponderous and slow procedure. It seems to me that whoever is the guiding hand in Usan Salmon failed to ensure that the weekly slap was being observed, giving rise to these breaches of the regulations. We should be pressing the procurator fiscal for an explanation as to why that person is not being prosecuted as an individual, after which he would acquire a criminal record. IMHO such a person should not be allowed a netting licence.

Thirdly, the misconduct being addressed in this prosecution is repetitive. And you can bet your bottom dollar that whoever appears for the defence will trot out some hand-ringing explanation that the company deeply regrets these offences but was not able to observe the regulations because of adverse tidal/weather conditions. Well, I'm sorry. That is just EYEWASH. All fishermen watch the weather forecasts. And all sea anglers, trawlermen, coastguards et al monitor the weather forecasts scrupulously. And weather foreacasts are more accurate now than they have ever been. And further, everyone knows you should take no chances when severe weather is expected. Now Usan are as capable as anyone else of taking cognisance of a weather report - and of course, they know the tides at any given point. The law is clear - the nets should not be fishing at week-ends - end of. So if bad weather is expected, or high tidal surges for that matter, the nets should be lifted early in anticipation - again, end of.

Fourthly, the regular sheriff in Forfar is a nice, gentle chappie.....

Fifthly, it seems probable to me that Usan are prepared to run the risk of an occasional fine because they will soon pay it off with the sale of the extra salmon they net during the periods when they carry on fishing in defiance of the regulations.

Sixthly, let me call upon all anglers who live near Usan's netting stations to make an occasional trip down there of a Friday evening or a Monday morning when they can manage and film what they see on their mobile phones. I can assure you that this will be a very strong disincentive to Usan. Let me suggest that you send film of any apparent offences to the procurator fiscal, to Hughie and to the Clerk to the Tay District Salmon Fishery Board (see their website for details.)

SO, GENTLEMEN, here is your chance to do something positive for ourselves instead of just mumphing and moaning on this website. PLEASE write to:

The Procurator Fiscal,
Forfar Sheriff Court,
FORFAR DD8 3LA.

under the heading " YOU v. USAN SALMON FISHING - Deferred Sentence 31st March 2015. Forfar Sheriff Court" and making the points I make here and adding any thoughts of your own.

Please also write to Dr. Aileen McLeod at the Scottish Parliament (see webiste for address) drawing attention to Usan's misconduct and asking her what steps she intends to take to monitor Usan's activity from now on.

How long does it take to write such a letter, gentlemen? Let me tell you. It takes less time than a fishless day on the riverbank. So please, gentlemen - I have given you the guns and ammo so it's time for you to fire the bullets!

In conclusion, may I thank-you for bearing with me thus far! Please PM me with any replies received. We must persist with this campaign.
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