• Register




Present: Hugh C Adamson, Neil Andersen, Bill Balfour, Charles Gow, Eric Greig, , David Laird, , Tom Sampson (Esk River & Fisheries Trust), Jim Simpson, Malcolm Taylor (chairman), Peter Winder and Marshall Halliday (Clerk).


Members of the public in attendance:


K. Freshwater S&TA


Apologies: Ali Gemmel, John MacDougall Richard Milne, Bob Ritchie, Adam Ryndycz and Martin Stansfeld.




John McDougall in favour of Morrice Howitt


Martin Stansfeld in favour of Peter Winder


Introduction and Welcome: The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting including the members of the public who were attending. It was confirmed that the Meeting had been publicised on the Board’s website since June 2015.


Declaration of Financial Interests: No declaration were made


Minutes: Minutes of the Meeting dated 9th April 2015 were approved subject to the following:


  1. Pow Burn project: The ERFT were proposing a restoration project covering the lower 4 km of the Pow Burn. Preliminary discussions had taken place with the landowners and a funding application had been submitted to the Water Environment Fund. The project would be constrained by the high value of the agricultural land in the riparian zone.

  2. Correction to lady concerned about shooting – she was at Mains of Logie not the Luther.


Matters Arising:


  1. Morphie Dyke: The proposed plan by Envirocentre had been submitted to all Board Members and the comments received were all in agreement with the proposal with some wishing to get the work completed as soon as permissions were granted. The CAR licence and Planning Permission documents were close to completion and would be submitted asap. The Board agreed that the plans would only be implemented when deemed necessary.

  2. Netting Protocol: This had not been signed and neither the Caithness nor Deveron Boards had agreed to its terms. However, in the recent weeks the Chairman and Bailiffs have received communication from USF on keep-ins with details of the nets involved, the reason and intentions of USF.

  3. Complaint to the Board by USF: The Chairman had appointed the Clerk and David Laird to respond as per the Board’s “Complaints Procedure”. USF had been informed that in their opinion the complaint had no foundation and was dismissed. No further response had been received from USF and therefore that matter was assumed to be completed.

  4. M. McBay Nets: A lease for one year had been agreed at a cost of £15,000 share equally between the Esk Board, Dee Board and NASF.

  5. Conservation of Sea Trout: Agreement had been reached with USF to release all healthy sea trout in 2015 for the sum of £15,000.


Chairman’s Report Correspondence, and Meetings:


The Chairman reported that he had attended meetings with the North East Boards and the Procurator Fiscal. The latter was also attended by David Laird ( the Clerk was excluded due him being a witness at the trial of USF). It was reported that the prosecution was complicated by the various ownership issues of the fishings which involved the Directors of USF and three companies. This was the main reason why the Directors could not be charged individually.


The Clerk reported attending meetings involving the LIFE Project, RAFTS, SEPA, Bailiffs and ASFB. Martin Standsfeld had written to the Chairman on a number of issues and there had been correspondence from the Scottish Government concerning progressing the Wild Fisheries Review.


Wild Fisheries Review


  1. The Government’s Response – Wild Fisheries Reform: A response had been circulated and the Board which was supported by the Board with the following points to be stressed:

    • The proposals were generally welcomed

    • A key point was retention of the Esk Board’s independence and this could be extended to include other smaller catchments within Angus currently within the Tay District but which were neglected

    • The type of structure(s) required to implement the Government’s proposals was still under investigation by ASFB

    • SANA’s position was still against the imposition of any Rod Licence

  2. Licensed Killing: The Government’s proposals to prohibit the killing of all salmon outwith inland waters was warmly welcomed. Although the fact that they did not include sea trout was a weakness. Other points noted were as follows:

    • The allocation of tags was complicated and may penalised the smaller beats

    • The issue of lures was also considered

    • A response was required by the 19th August. There was also an online forum set up to promote discussion and the link would b sent to all Board Members by the Clerk


The Board supported the prohibition on killing outwith inland waters but believed that this should be extended to estuary fishings as it had been demonstrated that these also were MSF. It was considered likely that there would not a be a licence granted to kill any salmon on the South Esk in view of its SAC status. In this respect the following was agreed:


  • The prohibition on coastal netting required reciprocation from anglers to conserve stocks.

  • The Chairman would write to all proprietors to seek their views on a policy of voluntary total catch and release on all rivers within the Esk District. In respect of the North Esk this would be on condition that netting ceased at the mouth of the North Esk. It was recognised that not all proprietors might support this policy. Under these circumstances, the support of the Government to endorse catch and release was vital.

  • Hugh Campbell Adamson would contact David Smart in an attempt to negotiate to end to estuary netting on the North Esk




Conservation Measures:


  1. Predation: All who contributed to smolt shepherding were thanked by the Chairman. Concern was raised at the exploitation of sea trout by the net and coble fishery at the mouth of the North Esk

  2. Disease outbreak: Serious concern was expressed at the loss of the valuable spring component on the North Esk. Every attempt should be made to ascertain the cause (the Board was contributing to a research project on the disease). It was recognised that this might be difficult and even with such knowledge little could be done to cure the situation. It was likely that the disease was a consequence of stress and in this respect with the breach at Morphie facilitating upstream migration, the problem now seemed to be exacerbated by the temperature barrier at the Loups of the Burn. The Clerk had verbally discussed the possibility of trying to improve fish passage with Dr Colin Bean of SNH who in the first instance was willing to consider any reasonable option. It was noted that many other Scottish Rivers had similar outbreaks at this time.





  1. Details of expenditure up to the end of June 2015 were broadly in line with the budget

  2. The closure of Esk Salmon Management Ltd was proceeding. A resolution to the right of pre-emption was awaited. A sale of the bothies was still uncertain.


Esk Rivers & Fishery Trust:


  1. Works at Acharn and Moulzie under the LIFE Project were proceeding

  2. Funding for the restoration design for the lower Pow had been confirmed

  3. Envirocentre had just started on the restoration design for the Melgund

  4. Students were undertaking work on drones, stock estimation for the South Esk and an ecological survey of the Melgund




  1. Reserve Bailiffs: It was agreed that subject to the Sheriff upholding a guilty verdict on August 20th the status of Reserve Bailiffs would be revoked from David Pullar (senior and junior) and George Pullar

  2. The following dates were confirmed:

    • Esk Board Meeting- 12th November

    • Esk Board Triennial Elections 21st January 2016

  3. The Board expressed concern re proposals licensed by SEPA for the Bervie – a definitive method statement was required the Clerk would contact SEPA accordingly

  4. AGM: It was agreed that Tom Sampson would chair the AGM as the Board Chairman had a prior engagement



The Meeting was closed with a vote of thanks to the Chairman