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Louise Batchelor, Environment Correspondent
"Nessie hunters, or rather crypto-zoologists, take themselves very seriously"
 real 56k

Jackie O'Brien reports
"This is not as far fetched as an American paper's report last week that Nessie had been caught"
 real 28k

Thursday, 4 January, 2001, 19:42 GMT
Nessie protection plan drawn up
Nessie
Scottish Natural Heritage will be prepared for Nessie
A government agency has drawn up a contingency plan to cope with the possibility of the Loch Ness Monster being caught.

The Scottish Natural Heritage instructions form part of a code of practice for research projects on the Highland loch aimed at protecting all existing wildlife and the local environment.

However, one Nessie fan club has described the measures as bureaucracy gone mad.

The code of practice was drawn up following a Swedish monster hunter's request to lay a net across Loch Ness in his attempt to capture the elusive Nessie.

Nessie
A famous 'sighting' of Nessie
Concerned about the implications for other existing wildlife, SNH has introduced a number of safeguards to protect any creature which is caught.

Under the code, hunters must release their catch, whatever the species, back into the loch after appropriate DNA samples are taken.

SNH spokesman Johnathan Stacey said the organisation must keep an open mind.

He said: "Should anything be captured in this net, in this trap, then we would want to see it examined but also released unharmed.

"I think if they did capture something that was hitherto unknown to science then the whole world would be interested.

'Loony fringe'

"As far as SNH is concerned we would be regarding it as a very valuable and important part of Scotland's biodiversity and we would want to be treating it in its best interests.

However, the Loch Ness Monster Fan Club said the plan was extreme and warned that it could threaten future research projects.

Gary Campbell
Gary Campbell: plan is extreme
Fan club member Gary Campbell said: "There's various statutes, for instance, the Wildlife and Countryside Act, the Animal Scientific Procedures Act, there's a Vets' Act from the 1960s and all those apply to Nessie.

"So I think for a code of conduct to be put in by a quango, in many respects, will put people off coming to Loch Ness.

"It might drive the 'loony fringe', for want of a better word, underground. They might not publicise their plans and do something that could be a danger to themselves, the environment and Nessie."

However, Mr Stacey said the agency was only doing its job.

He said: "I don't think that developing an informal forum, and informal policy with people who have an interest in Loch Ness to safeguard the existing features of interest is irresponsible in any way."

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See also:

24 Oct 00 | Scotland
Storm hits Nessie 'fishing' plan
08 Jul 99 | UK
Nessie hosts hunters
11 Jun 99 | Sci/Tech
Webcam nets Nessie?
09 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
Nessie on the Net
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