Salmon Anglers Tackle the Scottish Independence Issue
An independent Scotland would have a damaging effect on the nation’s salmon fishing industry, creating uncertainty for the annual £240 million income from country sports tourism, claims new research. The report reveals that over half of anglers fear that the break up of the Union would have an adverse impact on field sports tourism. One in four declared themselves “very worried” by the prospect.
Commissioned by Dundee sporting agent Salmo International, the research highlighted increased investment in salmon farming (51%), changing government priorities (48%) and a lack of enthusiasm for countryside affairs (33%), as the three main concerns.
Greig Thomson, founder of Salmo International, said: “Emotions are running mighty high. Whilst the good news is that our report reaffirmed Scotland’s status as a world-class salmon fishing destination, the bad news is that it uncovered serious worries about an unshackled government cosying up to the salmon farming industry at the expense of our magnificent wild salmon stocks.”
”The overall consensus is that an independent Scotland wouldn’t have the sport’s interests at heart. This hammers home the message that the relentless pursuit of salmon farming comes not only with a significant ecological cost but also with financial pain due to diminished tourism income and the knock-on effect for communities across the country.”
“For sure, salmon farming is here to stay - the economic contribution is indisputable – but this once again begs the question about tightening up processes to ensure long-term sustainability.”
An overwhelming 93% of all 275 anglers polled viewed Scottish salmon fishing as a world-class sport. Furthermore, two out of five (41%) named Scotland as their ultimate fishing destination, more than twice as many who chose the productive rivers of Norway (16%), Russia (14%) or Canada (11%).
Devotees are more than happy to dig deep, with two out of five anglers prepared to spend between £1,000 and £2,500 a year on fishing trips, and a fifth happy to splurge up to £5,000 per year. And fly fishing is reasonably recession proof with two thirds either maintaining or increasing spending levels over the last five years.
Thomson, who represented Scotland at the sport internationally, added: “The fishing community has made its views abundantly clear. It cherishes Scotland as a destination, it’s prepared to pay handsomely for the privilege of fishing an iconic river like the Dee or the Tay but it harbours grave concerns about the threat of independence on wild salmon stocks.”
“Remarkable efforts have been made to preserve wild salmon stocks in recent years, but the issue here is that these deep-seated fears of rampant salmon farming convert to a dip in inward tourism. That would be a very sad day for Scotland on a global sporting stage.”
When asked about which element of salmon farming causes most worry, two thirds (65%) cited the impact of parastite infections, such as spreading sea lice, on migrating wild salmon. 47% were concerned about the salmon farming industry being treated too leniently because of its valuable economic status, 43% cited escaping fish cross-breeding with wild salmon, 24% said poor inspection procedures, and lighter regulation than other European countries (20%).