Is this our last year fishing in Scotland ?

Mark G Egan – Sea angling visitor to Scotland.

I accepted SSACN’s invitation to contribute to their project somewhat reluctantly as the title will indicate, but I feel that the issues I (and many other visiting anglers) have cannot be addressed unless someone is told.

For the last 12 years, my wife, our twin boys and I have spent 4 weeks a year holidaying in Scotland. Two weeks have been spent in early summer holidaying in South West Scotland at various caravan sites and the other two weeks in autumn holidaying in North West Scotland staying in rented holiday cottages. As a family we are all enthusiastic sea anglers and my wife along with one of the twins are artists who specialise in seascapes and portraying marine life in general so Scotland with its scenery has always been a major attraction.

However, 2016 is most probably the last time we shall spend our summer holidays in Scotland – we have already determined to take our autumn break this year in Cornwall instead and to spend a few summer holidays trying out other destinations such as Norway and Iceland.

This decision has been simmering for a few years now; It is not that we are bored with the scenery, or the overall holiday experience itself, but the actual sea fishing experience seems to get worse every year. You can see this in many ways. There are now fewer tackle shops and charter boats, many piers and even some slipways are closed to anglers and most of those that still exist are in a very poor state of repair.

The most obvious aspect though, is the lack of quality fishing for shore based sea anglers such as ourselves.

Whilst dibbing off pier ends or beaches for small fish was entertaining when the twins were younger, there was still plenty of quality fish for my wife and myself – now the numbers of quality fish have declined we all have to be content with quantity rather than quality.

The lack of good sized fish is certainly more apparent in Scotland than in some of the English locations I fish.

Why this is so I am not so sure. On one hand the Scottish Government and the commercial fishermen seem to be saying stocks have never been better and on the other hand we see Scottish anglers discussing the state of the Clyde and other waters who complain they don’t see the quality of fishing they used to – which is our experience too.

We are also perplexed by the attitude the commercial sector have towards organisations such as the SSACN, the MCS etc; Surely a more diverse and well populated marine environment will benefit everyone. What is even more disquieting is the nature of attacks those organisations and sea anglers who support conservation activities are subject to by those involved in prawn and scallop fishing – this is something we have witnessed personally when fishing near Campbeltown on the Mull of Kintyre.

The message we would like to give to the readers of SSACN’s project and the Scottish Government is, if sea angling is of economic interest to you then it is time you worked with sea anglers to address the issues of inshore stocks and find novel solutions such as exist in Norway, the USA, Iceland etc, or accept that Scotland will no longer be an attractive sea angling holiday destination.

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