Uniting to tackle salmon poaching as stocks near crisis-point

Police and fisheries managers are joining forces to crack down on salmon poaching in the Borders and Lothian at a crucial time for the iconic species.

The River Tweed Commission, Fisheries Management Scotland and Police Scotland will be working to deliver two training days for Police Officers on the River Tweed in September and November. The aim is to highlight the significant impact of fish poaching – a wildlife crime – on our prized native fish species. It will ensure that officers are well-equipped with the skills and knowledge to identify illegal fishing activity and take appropriate action in partnership with local fisheries enforcement personnel in the Borders and Lothians.

The events will build on the success of an event held on Tayside in March, during which Police Wildlife Crime Liaison Officers and Specialist Wildlife Crime Procurator Fiscals learned more about illegal fishing techniques involving rod and line and nets. The fisheries legislation is complex, and the events will demystify many of the illegal practices which can damage fish populations and compromise conservation efforts. These events form part of a wider national delivery plan to develop and enhance local partnerships between Police Scotland and fisheries enforcement personnel.

Fay Hieatt, Clerk to the River Tweed Commission said, “With the number of Atlantic Salmon returning to our rivers currently in steep decline, it is more important than ever that every fish which makes that successful migration back to its home river is given the opportunity to spawn the next generation. Salmon poaching is a serious crime and the River Tweed Commission is proud to be working with Police Scotland to offer specialist training for our local Police officers to equip them with the knowledge to identify fisheries crime. With all organisations experiencing pressure on their resources, we feel that this collaborative approach is an extremely valuable way of making the best use of joint local enforcement capabilities.”

Chief Inspector Stuart Reid said: “Tackling wildlife crime is not just about law enforcement, it is about working with partners across all sectors and the general public to raise awareness and to prevent it happening. Wildlife crime occurs across all our communities and no-one wants to see native fish stocks depleted through illegal activity. I am fully supportive and welcome this new joint training venture, which will ensure Scotland’s rich and varied wildlife species will be there for future generations to enjoy.”

Brian Davidson, Director of Communications & Administration at Fisheries Management Scotland said, “Salmon catches in Scotland have reached the lowest levels ever recorded. Figures for 2018, taken together with those of recent years, confirm this iconic species is now approaching crisis point. At the same time, fish poaching is officially the highest volume activity of all 9 wildlife crime categories. We are pleased to be working closely with Police Scotland and our members to address fish poaching at this challenging time. These events on the River Tweed will help forge long-term joint working arrangements between fisheries enforcement personnel and Police Scotland and improve understanding of these serious wildlife crimes”.