TO coincide with the start of the new salmon fishing season last week, Lothian and Borders Police joined forces with the River Tweed Commission, Scottish Borders Council and Crimestoppers for a new campaign targeting the poachers who cast a dark shadow on the Tweed year after year.
Organised criminal gangs with links to other crimes are often responsible for salmon poaching and travel long distances to illegally remove salmon from the river with no regard for the effect their actions have on local wildlife or the rural communities.
Salmon fishing brings in high-levels of tourism to the Scottish Borders and is a vital part of the economy in the region.
In the past otters and ducks have been found in poachers’ nets leading to death or serious injury for the animals.
Police Wildlife Crime Officers will join colleagues from partner agencies to monitor the river and deter any criminal activity.
Anyone found to be responsible for poaching or other crimes in or around the water will be robustly dealt with.
Inspector John Scott from the Safer Communities Team said: “Many people see salmon poachers as people taking one or two fish for the pot.
“However it is more likely that they will operate across a wide area, targeting different river systems depending on the time of year and can be ruthless in avoiding detection.
“Poachers have no consideration for other people and will often commit other types of crime to fund their poaching including stealing fuel for vehicles and boats. I would urge anyone who suspects someone of being involved in poaching or other wildlife crime to come forward and speak with police or the other agencies involved in salmon conservation.”
Nick Yonge, from the River Tweed Commission, said: “The Commission’s Water Bailiff team look forward to working closely with the police in this initiative. Salmon poaching is a criminal act, which seriously damages breeding stocks of fish.
“River netsmen and anglers all agree not to kill early running stocks of salmon in accordance with the Tweed Spring Salmon Conservation rules. The reason for the rules is that there are only just enough fish returning from the sea to sustain the breeding population. Killing any Spring Salmon reduces that breeding stock and will not be tolerated.”