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The Draft Minutes Of The Esk District Salmon Fishery Board Meeting Held On The 12th November 2015


Members of the public in attendance:

Heike Bachelier, Andy Heathcoat, and Peter Winder

Apologies: Eric Greig and Bob Ritchie

Introduction and Welcome: The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting including the members of the public who were attending. This was the last Board Meeting of the current term and the Triennial Elections would be held on the 21st January 2016. It was confirmed that the Meeting had been publicised on the Board’s website since October 2015.

Declaration of Financial Interests: No declaration were made. Martin Stansfeld sought clarification on the Clerks interests. The Chairman pointed out that the Clerk was not a member of the Board and as such was not subject to the requirement of Board Members to declare their financial interests. However in the interest of complete transparency the Clerk had declared all his interests when the Act came into force and the Meeting acknowledged that this had been done.

Minutes: Minutes of the Meeting dated 23rd July 2015 were approved.

Matters Arising:

  1. Morphie Dyke: A CAR and Planning Application was under discussion with the relevant authorities. The Planning Department had raised some issues concerning access and this had now hopefully been clarified

  2. North Esk net and coble fishery: Discussions were ongoing with David Smart.

  3. Proprietors’ views on catch and release: As agreed, the Chairman had written to all Proprietors seeking their views on catch and release. The vast majority were against statutory enforcement claiming that a voluntary approach was preferable and would achieve a similar result in due course.

  4. Statutory Public Meeting: This was confirmed to be held on the 3rd December at which Dr Alan Wells (Scottish Government) would update the meeting on progress with the WFR.

Chairman’s Report Correspondence, and Meetings:

  • The Chairman reported that he had attended meetings with the Clerk and Bailiffs. The Clerk reported attending meetings involving the LIFE Project, RAFTS, SEPA, Bailiffs and ASFB Joint Working Group. Martin Stansfeld 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.

  • Formal Complaint: Mr George Pullar (Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd.) had submitted a Formal Complaint re rescinding of Reserve Bailiff status from George Pullar, David Pullar (Jnr) and Daivid Pullar (Snr). A committee comprising of David Laird, John Macdougall and the Clerk had investigated the complaint and found in favour of the Board. The Bailiff warrant cards were returned to the Clerk as requested and no further action was deemed necessary.

  1. Resolution Proposed by Martin Stansfeld - “The Esk District Salmon Fishery Board apologises to Usan Fisheries for anything EDSFB officers or members may have done in contribution to the torment and persecution that the family have been undergoing and ask everyone to please now leave them in peace to prosper as best they can.” In view of the sensitivity of this issue and the fact that charges in respect of netting activities in 2015 were ongoing, the Board were unanimous that this matter be taken in private at the end of the Meeting

Wild Fisheries Review

  1. Policy development:

  2. There was little factual information concerning the crucial aspects of FMO structure and funding. However a draft bill, probably largely focusing on enabling powers was to be published in early 2016. It would be 2017 at the earliest when the bill would come into force and a period for transition was envisaged.

  3. It was noted that SANA’s position was still against the imposition of any Rod Licence

  4. Consultation on Conservation Limits and Licensed Killing: It was noted that the consultation recommended the following:

  5. Rivers were categorised as follows:

    1. Grade 1 At least an 80% mean probability of CL being met in the last 5 years. North Esk

Advice provided (either to District Salmon Fishery Board or proprietors/fisheries in areas without a DSFB) indicating that exploitation is sustainable therefore no additional management action is currently required. This recognises the effectiveness of existing non-statutory local management.

    1. Grade 2 60-80% mean probability of CL being met in the last 5 years. South Esk SAC

Management action is necessary to reduce exploitation; mandatory catch and release will not be required in the first instance, but this will be reviewed annually. Production of a conservation plan is required in consultation with Marine Scotland. Where a DSFB does not exist, assistance in plan formulation will be offered to those concerned.

    1. Grade 3 Less than 60% mean probability of CL being met in the last 5 years. Bervie Water and South Esk non-SAC

Exploitation is unsustainable and mandatory catch and release (all methods) for 1 year will be required. Management action is necessary to reduce exploitation and production of a conservation plan is required in consultation with Marine Scotland.

  1. Netting policy:

    1. Coastal netting would ceased for a period of 3 years commencing in 2016

    2. Netting within estuary limits would continue provided there was an exploitable surplus

    3. All net caught salmon would be tagged.

  2. Definition of “salmon”: In previous legislation salmon included sea trout; however the current proposals excluded sea trout.

  3. Lunan Water: It was noted that the Lunan had been excluded from the classification system and its inclusion recommended. The Clerk was asked to inform the Government accordingly.

  4. FMO Area: It was affirmed that the Esk District wished to remain independent. However the Board would be amenable to sharing such resources involved in policing, education and marketing with for example the Dee area.

Conservation Measures:

  • Consideration of catch and release policy to support the development of conservation plans ( North Esk and South Esk SAC): The Board agreed that the current statutory period (up to 30th April) during which no salmon should be killed should be extended to the 15th June on a voluntary basis. Similar voluntary measures should apply to sea trout. In addition, the use of only single or double barbless hooks should be encouraged.

  • Bervie: The Clerk had meet with Inverbervie AC on the 11th November and they intend putting notices up along their beat stating that no salmon can be killed. Permit conditions would reflect this requirement.

  • Conservation Plans – Habitat Improvements: It was noted that there was considerable scope for improvements particularly reducing the impact of sediment (sand and gravel) transport and deposition in many parts of the rivers. This required the cooperation of SEPA and SNH.

  • Predation:

  • Smolt shepherding 2015: Martin Stansfeld reported that during a week when gas guns malfunctioned, there was an immediate return of birds to the beat with an estimated of 650 parr for the week being taken. He intended to send this data to MSS/SNH.

  • 2016 Plans: Shepherding was being planned for 2016, however it was uncertain how many volunteers would be available. The continued presence of the net and coble fishery in the North Esk was discouraging. Martin Stansfeld confirmed that he would apply for the usual licence to cull birds in 2016.

  • Reimbursement of costs of 2015: It had been agreed that validated expenditure, envisaged as covering the purchase of gas guns and other consumables, would be reimbursed up to a maximum of £5,000. Martin Stansfeld disputed the approved Board Minute, stating that a sum of £5,000 was due. This was not upheld by the Board. Gallery confirmed that they had purchased a gas gun and would not be seeking any reimbursement from the Board. The Board were adamant that fully documented accounting records must be maintained as befitting a statutory body and for example no discounting of assessments in respect of perceived sums of money owed would be tolerated.



  1. Details of expenditure up to the end of June 2015 were broadly in line with the budget. In future details of income would be provided.

  2. Assessments: the majority had been paid and apart from a few small amounts outstanding the major issues arose probably from the Valuation Roll not being updated.

  3. The closure of Esk Salmon Management Ltd was proceeding. A resolution to the right of pre-emption was awaited.

Esk Rivers & Fishery Trust:

  1. The current year involved a lot of planning with the actual implementation in 2016. Substantial forestry works had been completed in Glen Clova.

  2. Works at Acharn and Moulzie under the LIFE Project were complete except for some tree planting


  1. Scottish Government Counter Investigations: The report should have been published in the summer and was expected anytime

  2. Logie Counter: Counts were available up to the end of September although the last three months had not been fully validated. The total for the year to the end of September was approximately 8,500 which was about 1000 ahead of 2014.

  3. Tree blockages on the Noran (Careston Estate) – the Clerk would obtain a price for removal in the spring of 2016.

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


At this point, The Chairman invited the members of the public to leave to allow the Board to discuss in private the resolution put forward by Martin Stansfeld.