A LEADING environmentalist has accused the Scottish Government of destroying the salmon-fishing industry through ‘unsustainable fin fish farms’.
In an open letter to Holyrood, Orri Vigfusson chairman and founder of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF), put responsibility for the ‘catastrophic’ decline of salmon in Scottish rivers firmly on the Government’s shoulders.
Vigfusson, who is well-known in Iceland for his work in salmon conservation, writes: "Your country encourages and supports the proliferation and expansion of unsustainable fin fish farms. You overfish your fish stocks and you encourage interceptory mixed-stock salmon fisheries that target the fish we have protected while they feed in our waters.
"We have given these salmon safe passage in the belief that they will be allowed to spawn and help restore Scottish rivers. Instead, far from being rebuilt, your salmon abundance has declined by 80-90% in recent decades. This is principally due to the failure of your authorities to manage them properly."
This criticism of Scotland’s fisheries management comes just weeks after First Minister Alex Salmond announced an independent review of the way the country looks after its fish stock.
It also comes as a number of high profile figures have dealt blows to the Scottish Government’s planned economic policies as it seeks independence. The Scottish salmon fishing industry is worth around £200 million a year to the country, much of which comes from exports. A reduced industry in salmon fishing could have repercussions for the overall economic situation of Scotland, should they become independent.
The fisheries review process begins at the start of next month, with initial reports expected in the summer.