Spike in poaching on Scotland’s top angling rivers as criminals take advantage of lockdown

As reported by the Press & Journal, many Fisheries Management Scotland members have responded to a pronounced upturn in fish poaching activity during the pandemic – the River Dee and River Spey talk about their experiences in this article. In terms of the national picture, the Scottish Police Authority report has confirmed a 282% rise in fisheries offences between April-September 2020. These figures highlight the importance of the fishery boards maintaining capacity to deliver on their statutory enforcement powers, and the need to protect our fisheries during lockdown. In the light of the wild salmon crisis, it is vital that fisheries managers are supported to deliver their vital role of protecting our iconic native fish. The COVID-19 restrictions have hit the fisheries sector hard and we are continuing to make the case for financial support for our members. The support packages developed to date have mostly excluded the fisheries management sector and this situation must be urgently rectified.

From the Press & Journal

Criminals have taken advantage of lockdown to plunder some of Scotland’s most famous angling rivers.

The Dee and Spey have both been repeatedly targeted by criminals over the past 12 months. The removal of fish from the rivers could have a significant impact on stock levels, hampering their ability to spawn. And there have also been warnings that if stocks drop it could damage the local economies that rely on angling.

Salmon poaching the Dee – one of Scotland’s best angling rivers – more than doubled during 2020. 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.