POOR weather was blamed for last year’s salmon and sea trout catches on the River Tweed and its tributaries dipping to their lowest levels for a decade.
Just over 14,500 salmon were caught on local rivers last year: previous years figures were 20,800 in 2011 and 31,321 in 2010.
Tweed Commission chairman, Douglas Dobie explained in his annual report: “The salient feature of last season’s fishing was the weather. When all of us working in and enjoying the countryside had to endure and accept the consequences of an unprecedented wet spell.”
Last year the Tweed system had 122 per cent of its average rainfall, resulting in many days of lost fishing for both rods and in-river nets.
“The summer and autumn catches were more evenly spread over the second half of the season,” added Mr Dobie. “At around 10,000 it says much for the tenacity of anglers and boatmen to have made the most of adverse weather conditions.
“In the few places where salmon did seem to stop and settle catches were exceptional.”
On all three sections of the Tweed salmon catches were below the five year average. The Till, Whiteadder and Ettrick recorded higher than average catches; but the Teviot’s rod catches decreased.
The number of illegal nets seized by the commission’s water bailiffs fell from 79 in 2011 to 49 last year and five charges of poaching were submitted to magistrates at Berwick, plus one to the procurator fiscal north of the border.
The work done by the River Tweed Commissioners in protecting wild fish stocks in the River Tweed and its tributaries was acknowledged by South of Scotland Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume when the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill reached its Stage 1 debate in the Scottish Parliament last week.
Mr Hume, also warned that any moves to restructure fishery boards must not jeopardise the freshwater fishery in the Borders.
He said: “The River Tweed and its tributaries is a major attraction for fishing tourism, generating roughly £18 million for the Borders economy and supporting just under 500 jobs, so it’s crucial that there are strict measures in place to protect wild fish stocks in the Borders.
“The local management role of the River Tweed Commissioners, who work closely with the Tweed Forum and others on the sustainable use of the river, is key to the success of Tweed fishery.
“Any moves by the Scottish Government to restructure fishery boards must not jeopardise that.”