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Home  //  News  //  Board and Trust Reports  //  THE DRAFT MINUTES OF THE ESK DISTRICT SALMON FISHERY BOARD MEETING HELD ON THE 31st March 2016


Apologies: There were no apologies.

Introduction and Welcome: The Clerk welcomed everyone to the meeting including the members of the public who were attending. This was the first Board Meeting since the Triennial Elections had been advertised on the web site during March.

Election of Chairman: The Clerk called for nominations for Chairman. Malcolm Taylor was proposed and there being no other nominations was unanimously elected as the Chairman for the term of the Board.

Declaration of Financial Interests: It is recorded that- (a) No declarations were made by any Board Member and (b) The Clerk is not a member of the Board and as such is not subject to the requirement of Board Members to declare their financial interests. However in the interest of complete transparency the Clerk declared all his interests.

Minutes: The public and private Minutes of the Meeting dated 12th November 2015 were approved. Martin Stansfeld had not been sent the Minutes and therefore reserved his position.

Matters Arising:

  1. Morphie Dyke: A CAR and Planning Application was under discussion with the relevant authorities. After storm Frank, the application had been modified slightly. It was confirmed that the licence concerned stabilising both ends and removing the centre section including the fish pass. This would only be implemented if there was a barrier to migration created by further deterioration of the structure.

Correspondence, and Meetings:

  • 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.

  • A letter had been received from Derek Strachan on behalf of Kirriemuir AC and would be considered under the agenda item Kinnaird Hydro Scheme

Draft Annual Report and Administration

  • Draft Annual Report: It was agreed that the 2015 members should be added andany comments should be sent the Clerk. The Chairman would add an introduction.

  • Accounts to 31st December 2015: These were approved by the Board

  • Budget for the current financial year. This was approved subject minor alterations including and assurance that Bailiffs’ pensions were not less than that paid previously. It was noted that no netting compensation required to be paid this year.

  • Assessment 2016: A proposal from Martin Stansfeld of a reduced assessment of 35% should be considered due to the amount of work owners will have to do to the river following the floods After some discussion, it was agreed that the assessment should remain at 50%. It was noted that the Morphie Fishings had negotiated a reduction in their valuation of 50%.

  • The date of the Proprietors’ Meeting was the 30th June 2016

Wild Fisheries Review

  1. Policy development: Some proposals from the Scottish Government had been published – the consultation ends on the 2nd May 2016. There remained considerable uncertainty regarding FMO structure and funding. The Board would submit a response and members were requested to provide the Clerk with any comments.

  2. Pilot FMOs: From discussions so far the Esk would be approached by Government to form a Pilot FMO. This would enable advanced consideration of all the issues and most importantly working with government to formulate best practice for the new system. Despite offers from a volunteer to assist with this process, the Board agreed that initially the group with responsibility for developing the Pilot FMO should comprise the Chairmen of the Board and Trust and the Clerk. In view of the forthcoming election, it was envisaged that work would not begin until the summer.

  3. Conservation issues: Legislation was now in place confirming the river status. One change concerned the definition of all waters east of a point immediately downstream of the Bridge of Dun to include the Lunan Water as “coastal waters” resulting in a prohibition of killing any salmon and grilse within that designated area.


  • The Board waived standing orders to permit the continued discussion of Martin Stansfeld’s request for a payment of £5,000 towards expenses incurred to implement predator control in the 2015 season. After discussion it was agreed that valid receipts must be provided before any payments can be authorised. Copy invoices would be obtained by Martin Stansfeld and provided to Michael Henderson as it was alleged that both the Chairman and the Clerk had lost the original invoices. In view of this decision, Martin Stansfeld stated that he would carry out smolt shepherding and the bird cull (North Esk) in 2016 but not in the future. It was noted that there were fewer birds present this year.

  • The license for the cull had just been received and details would be given to Nigel McMullan the next day to enable him to undertake the cull on the other rivers.

Kinnaird Hydro Scheme

The Clerk outlined the proposals which where now at an advanced state of implementation. Angus Council was the competent authority along with the statutory consultees SEPA and SNH. The Board and Trust had submitted views which were incorporated into the permitted design and operation. All the documentation which led to the successful planning and CAR licence application was on the internet under the Angus Council Planning Portal. It was agreed to respond to Derek Strachan’s letter by providing this advice.

As the location is within the SAC, there was a thorough examination of the potential issues and conditions were specified to ensure that the habitat’s directive was not compromised. In the end, SNH declined to seek a full appropriate assessment as they were completely satisfied by the measures in place to protect the status of the SAC. The main issues were:

  • Protection of ascending fish by linking abstraction to the river flow and ceasing all abstraction at flows below the Q90. In addition the out flow is directed towards the entrance to the fish pass which would enhance its attraction for fish.

  • Smolt migration is facilitated by providing a smolt chute. In addition, monitoring had commenced in 2015 to ascertain the numbers of smolt going down the fish farm inlet. (approximately 1,400 were counted). The turbine is designed to facilitate the safe movement of smolts if they did enter the structure. However, further monitoring is stipulated and this will be undertaken by South Esk Estates to ensure that there is no significant damage to smolts. The Board/Trust will also be involved in this assessment.

Martin Stansfeld stated that 4% of the smolts were damaged in the turbines and he agreed to provide the reference the Clerk supporting this assertion. In the Kinnaird Scheme, damage to smolts was considered highly unlikely because the turbines are designed to operate in such a way so as to protect the smolts if they passed through the system.

The Board agreed that the issue surrounding the development was more one of public perception and the Clerk was asked to provide a short summary of the situation for the next Board Meeting. South Esk Estates would be delighted to show anyone round the site.

Esk Rivers & Fisheries Trust

The work of the Trust remains South Esk-centric and projects to restore the Melgund and Pow are in the planning stages. Funding is limited for the control of invasive weeds in 2016 but hopefully will improve in 2017 provided a grant from the HLF is obtained. The initial success with giant hogweed has been compromised by the excessive winter spates mobilising seed banks and depositing them in the flood plain where they produce new growth. On the other hand the control of Japanese Knotweed has been very successful. Some success had been achieved with SWT volunteers pulling out Himalayan Balsam.


  1. North Esk Conservation of Sea Trout: A proposal was put to the Board by Michael Henderson of Gallery in relation to the in-river netting at the Nab. It was proposed that a budget be included to compensate R&S Fisheries for the release of sea trout caught in May and June. It was stressed that any negotiations must be fair and reasonable. There were a number of options to achieve conservation including a system of “tide aside” and the use of larger mesh to allow fish of approximately 4 pounds and under to escape. The Board were fully supportive of this principle. However, it was pointed out that any negotiations would have to take place with David Smart. The view of R&S Fisheries was that sea trout stocks had improved, possibly due to the closure of sand eel fisheries. The main conservation issue was more associated with salmon and grilse. Bob Ritchie stated that if there was a serious conservation issue he would cease netting. The Board agreed that discussions should take place with David Smart, Michael Henderson and the Chairman offered to initiate this.

  2. Smolt tracking at sea: The Clerk as asked to investigate this project fully and to see if the Esks could be included. It was reported that the Dee and the Tay were participants and the results from this approach could be helpful in understanding the immediate post smolt mortality.

  3. Beavers: it looks as if it is inevitable that beavers will extend their current range to the Esk District. Currently they could be shot but a licence was required for any handling of dead beavers.

  4. It was noted that the reports concerning the South Esk spring salmon investigation and that producing an assessment for a potential counter network in Scotland had been published. The relevant links had been passed to Board Members.

  5. The Clerk stated that once the change to FMOs was confirmed, it would be an appropriate time for him to retire. The development of the necessary fishery management plans would best undertaken by the new team to ensure their ownership and commitment. It was envisaged that this would begin in 2017 and a short hand over period would be beneficial.