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I took Mr Macleod’s word at face value

By SPP Reporter

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Sir – Gregor MacLeod (NT Letters, June 1) says that I have "accused" him of owning netting rights in the Dornoch Firth.

I have indeed noted that Mr MacLeod had acquired such nets — based on his own unequivocal confirmations to, amongst others, officials of the Kyle of Sutherland District Salmon Fishery Board (the statutory body responsible for salmon in the District) that he had bought the same and that he intended to exercise his rights.

This was corroborated by statements in the last two issues of The Northern Times — by the Board Director Iain McMyn and the Board Clerk Gordon Robertson respectively. Surely it was entirely reasonable to take Mr MacLeod’s word (that he owned the netting rights) at face value.

On May 17th, I watched the netting operation on the side of the Dornoch Bridge. In my view, the net was being deployed in an unlawful fashion. As I understood Mr MacLeod to be the new owner, I e-mailed him (with a copy to the Board) alerting him to this and the letter of the law.

On May 18th, the Board Director visited both the netsman by the Bridge and Mr MacLeod to emphasise that the operation must comply with the regulations.

I understand that Mr MacLeod stressed to the Director that he wished to ensure that his nets were operated legally, which was clearly to be welcomed. At no point did he dispute that he was the owner of the nets. The latter point is clear from the Director’s comments in The Northern Times.

The Board was not informed until May 28th that the "previous agreed buyer" had pulled out of the purchase of the nets.

The Board itself had been seeking to purchase these net fishings and not fish them in the interests of conservation. I understand that the position of the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust (with its remit to conserve wild salmon and sea trout) was and remains to support the Board in its bid to purchase the nets, as the Board had made it plain to all, that, having acquired them, it would mothball them. It must be hoped that the nets may yet be purchased by the Board to benefit the conservation of wild salmonids in the wider public interest.

Andrew Graham-Stewart,


Bonar Bridge.

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