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Wednesday, 20 September, 2000, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
River catches at all-time low
Fly fishing
Catches were at a record low
The number of salmon and sea trout caught in Scotland last year was the lowest on record.

Fisheries Minister John Home Robertson has described the drop as giving "serious cause for concern".

The total number of salmon and grilse caught and retained by anglers and netsmen was 55,538 - down 39.4% on 1998.

Their accumulated weight was 197.8 tonnes, 29.2% below the 1998 figure of 197.8 tonnes, and the first time the catch had fallen below 200 tonnes since records began.

The mean weight of salmon was down by 0.5 kg while the average weight of grilse was down by 0.1 kg.

The total number of sea trout caught was 34,593, down 24.1%. The total weight taken was 35.5 tonnes, a fall of 25.4%.

Mr Home Robertson said: "These statistics have been well-trailed - but are still a serious cause for concern.

'Fresh initiatives'

"The 1999 catches of salmon and grilse are officially the lowest on record.

"There has been some anecdotal evidence that catches this year may be a little better in some parts, but the outcome for the year as a whole is still likely to be well down on catches of a few years ago.

"This has many obvious implications for the long-term sustainability of salmon in Scottish rivers.

"There is now absolutely no doubt that we need to take fresh initiatives to conserve stocks and to improve the regulation of fisheries.

"The Scottish Executive is already working to tackle the problems faced by freshwater fisheries - and, in particular, salmon and sea trout."

The minister said the recently announced Salmon Conservation (Scotland) Bill was at the heart of the executive's legislative programme.

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