Innovative technology is bringing a new solution to an old problem, as drones are being introduced to catch poachers and criminal gangs on the River Dee.

For years the river has been targeted by criminals removing fish illegally, and the issue ramped up over lockdown.

Now, the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board & River Dee Trust (DDSFB) are using drones in an effort to stop the plundering – and so far, it seems to be working.

Bringing technology to Scotland’s historic salmon fisheries

“Part of the board’s duty is to protect the stocks from ne’er-do-wells and poachers trying to remove fish,” said Jamie Urquhart, the fisheries protection manager at DDSFB.

There are also threats from organised criminal gangs who come and net the river. We have known family gangs who travel around all the rivers in Scotland removing fish with a gillnet.”

Criminals from across the country are thought to have taken advantage of the quiet of the pandemic to catch fish illegally.

A total of 53 incidents of poaching were recorded by the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board last year, more than twice the annual average – with four people charged.