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Thursday, 28 December, 2000, 11:37 GMT
Beer offered to save salmon
Anglers will be encourged to return their catch
Anglers are to be offered beer and clothing in a bid to boost dwindling salmon stocks in the River Tay.

Sweatshirts will be given to anglers who return fish to the water or donate them to a restocking programme.

Those handing in the heaviest salmon each month will win 50 worth of tackle vouchers - and a case of lager.

People are much more conservation minded than they were 10 years ago

David Summers, Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board
The conservation scheme, which starts on 15 January, is being introduced by Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board.

It is hoped the incentives will boost stocks of early salmon - fish returning at the beginning of the year - which have declined significantly in recent years.

Board fisheries manager, David Summers, said: "The very early salmon have declined a great deal in the last 10, 20 or 30 years.

"Particularly in the last 10 years they have become quite scarce.

Ocean temperatures

"The catch in January and February has gone from about 500 fish 20 years ago down to below 100 in recent years."

Mr Summers said the problem could be traced to a drop in ocean temperatures, which has increased fish mortality rates.

But he thinks changing attitudes towards conservation issues will help the programme succeed.

"People are much more conservation minded than they were 10 years ago," he said.

Stocking salmon
The aim is to preserve salmon stocks
"These things would have been unthinkable then, but times have changed and people's opinions have changed."

The scheme has won backing from the Tay Ghillies Association and several sponsors.

Tennents Lager has agreed to supply beer for anglers returning the largest salmon each month.

An opening day prize of 500 for the largest salmon is being also being donated by Dewars.

Anglers taking part in the scheme throughout the season will be given sweatshirts which carry the slogan: Saving Tay Salmon.

Fishing methods

A bill to protect Salmon stocks in national rivers is currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament.

The Salmon Conservation (Scotland) Bill, which is currently at committee stage, would give wide-ranging powers to local fishery boards and ministers to change fishing methods and even close fisheries.

The bill was launched by the Scottish Executive after salmon stocks in some rivers reached an all-time low.

The latest figures show the total catch has collapsed over the past 40 years, falling from nearly 1,600 tonnes in 1960 to 198 tonnes in 1999.

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See also:

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