I was asked to speak on Fishery Management in Ayrshire at the West Sutherland Fisheries Trusts’ annual conference for bailiffs and ghillies last Friday. I was caught off guard slightly when asked back in January as I forgot how remote Scourie is. Regardless, I ended up there on Thursday evening and stayed the night with Shona Marshall and her family.
I awoke to a grey overcast but dryish day which was a nice change as the last two in Lochaber had been miserably wet and windy. Scourie was just as I remembered it from passing through on my way to fish at Durness, many years ago. There’s not a lot to it and not a lot has changed from as far as I can see but by 10am, a there was a buzz of activity at the village hall and some 25 or so ghilllies and bailiffs turned up along with volunteers and others interested in the meeting.
We heard about the importance of seal control especially where rougue animals take up residence in small river estuaries and then the local wildlife crime officer talked on bailiffing and other wildlife crime that he comes across in the area. He showed the vast amount of evidence and the way it was compiled to ensure that a conviction was secured against a keeper who had set about ridding his estate of birds of prey and all other wildlife. This was a high profile case that was featured on the national News a couple of years ago.
After lunch Chris from the Ness DSFB talked about their catch data and poaching issues on their rivers and how close co operation with the Cromarty DSFB and Trusts helped to achieve effective policing. Simon McKelvie from Cromarty also talked at the meeting on the restoration of River Peffery near Strath Peffer. This was very interesting as it gave me some valuable pointers that we may be able to adopt for restoration techniques on burns such as the Fail and Chapelton where they are severely impacted as a result of previous management and agricultural pollution.
I talked on the many issues we face in Ayrshire, not least the mining issues and the many dams and weirs and associated problems that go with them. I heard someone comment at the end “And I thought we had problems!” I wish we had theirs. Anyway those are the challenges we face in Ayrshire and we better just get on with addressing them.
It was a long way to go but in the true spirit of co operation that exists between Trusts, I look forwards to inviting Shona to reciprocate with a talk at the next event we hold in Ayrshire. It was well worthwhile as at the moment we need to be creative in our approach to problem solving and sharing information in this way certainly helps. By the time I left Scourie at 5 o’clock it was pouring down again and the wind had whipped up to gale force.
I stopped off on in Lochaber on the way home to split the journey and spent a very rough night afloat in my boat. Feeling rather green this morning, and with no let up in the wind and rain, I headed back to a very sunny Ayrshire.