Page last updated at 01:02 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Anglers line up for salmon season

A catch and release code is in place on the River Tay

The salmon fishing season has begun on the River Tay as anglers across Scotland are urged to help protect stocks from a deadly parasite.

Disinfectant and warning signs have been sent to fishery boards to guard rivers against Gyrodactylus salaris.

The parasite has devastated stocks in Norway and can also be found in France, Germany, Portugal, Russia and Spain.

Meanwhile, anglers on the Tay will also help to protect salmon numbers by following a catch and release code.

Last year about 62% of the more than 8,000 salmon caught on the river were released.

In 2007, before the code was brought in, just 39% were let go.

An additional recommendation this year is that all sea trout should be released.

Celebrations to mark the opening of the season take place in Kenmore, and involve pipers and the blessing of a fishing boat with a quaich of whisky.

We should do our upmost to make sure that as many fish are conserved as possible
Dr David Summers
Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board
The event also raises money for charity.

Dr David Summers, from the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board, said: "Annually we catch on average about 10,000 salmon, so it's one of the three best rivers in Scotland and best in the UK.

"Because it starts on the 15th of January it's the first of the major rivers to open, so it's almost like the symbolic start to the Scottish salmon fishing season for most people."

And Dr Summers praised everyone's efforts to make sure fish stocks are kept high.

"Especially in the spring of the year, the spring salmon that come in from now to say May have declined quite a lot over the last 20 or 30 years, not just in the Tay, but nationally," he said.

"It is vitally important, we believe, that we should do our utmost to make sure that as many fish are conserved as possible and many of them succeed in spawning.

"That's why especially in the last two years, although it's been going on for the last 10 years, we have been promoting the practice of catch and release and that has gone from strength to strength."

Meanwhile, signs have been put up along riverbanks across Scotland warning about the GS parasite.

Anglers and canoeists have also been urged to use the Virkon disinfectant on tackle and equipment if they have been to infected areas.

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