The Chain Bridge at Horncliffe and beyond taken by Paul Crockford from Berwick during a helicopter trip from the Chain Bridge Honey Farm.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
SOLUTIONS FOR THE SALMON
With regard to your story headlined “Ghillies’ net fishing petition” (Berwickshire News, June 1), I should point out that every coin has two sides.
Salmon arrive at Berwick every month of the year and stay in the river without food until spawning time in December and January, although some spawn earlier, some later.
A ‘spring”’ fish, by definition, arrives in the river during the spring, but, by contradiction, could arrive the previous November or December. Packed with goodness. Why? Because those fish have to survive without eating until the following autumn.
Spring salmon numbers have declined and this year are particularly poor, although that assertion may be open to dispute given the condition of the river in February and March as many days were unfishable with a rod and line.
In 2010, the Tweed Commissioners (then headed by Malcolm Campbell’s boss) issued a dictate, the gist of which was that if you were a rod fisherman you had to release every salmon you caught on rod and line in the spring. The nets agreed to return salmon caught before July 1, but kept sea trout.
What has that policy achieved? Hard to say where we would have been without it, but easy to observe that the numbers this year are bad, worse than they were when the policy was imposed.
When you catch a salmon with a rod and line, you induce it to take a fly or a spinner to which is attached a single hook, a double hook or a treble. I have no idea what proportion of anglers have given up barbed or treble hooks because of the difficulty removing those hooks from the mouth, or worse, the throat of a salmon.
Anyway, the salmon, once hooked, is ‘played’ to exhaustion and then netted or dragged onto the bank (‘beached’), in both cases so the hooks can be removed. Enlightened anglers now try to remove the hooks without taking fish from the water. Unenlightened fishermen add to the salmon’s distress by holding it while man and fish are photographed.
So when these ghillies claim all the fish the rod fishermen catch are returned safely to the water, that is only part of the story. Some die on the bank, but the commissioners say a dead fish still has to be returned. Some bleed to death after release because the hooks (or their removal) have damaged a blood vessel.
It is a truism to say the life chances of a salmon caught, played, taken from the water and returned exhausted must be reduced, particularly if caught in February, but expected to survive without eating until the autumn.
Abrasions lead to infections. Fish out of water cannot take in oxygen. Worse, a proportion of fish are caught a second or even third time. The received wisdom is that a salmon handled out of water will lose its fecundity.
The question is, who, in reality, kills more salmon? The netsmen at Gardo, or the 40 signatories to the ghillies’ letter published in the same issue of your newspaper?
The next is, what might we do for the salmon?
Well, perhaps a start might be to reduce the rod fishing season. Why not stop all fishing in February, March and November? It is an unfortunate fact that of the UK rivers, only the Tweed and Nith have a 10-month rod fishing season. I wonder why that is. Are Tweed salmon somehow different to salmon in every other part of the UK?
Another solution might be to make the Tweed Commission a truly independent body – take control of the river away from the rod fishery vested interests. And another might be to co-ordinate research effort across the UK to establish what is behind the decline. Agriculture, chemicals or abstraction? Domestic pollution? Over-fishing of food sources at sea?
And a question for Mr Campbell. What price the Tweed as a commercial rod fishery, what price your jobs if salmon numbers carry on in decline? Time to take radical steps?
EMBARRASSED AND ANGRY
I have been a member of Hutton and Paxton Community Council for three years – until last month.
I have always wanted nothing but the best for the people of the village I love, and the surrounding area.
After reading two letters in your paper recently regarding the Hutton Barns egg farm and future expansion, I have reached my limit and had to act.
As the planning representative on the said community council, I have had nothing but a positive interaction with the MacLeans, who own the farm. I also support their application. They are a vitally-important business for our area and a local employer.
From early on, it seems our former planning representative, Mr McGregor, has been hell-bent on not allowing expansion of the farm to go ahead for some unknown personal reason. I have witnessed some terrible, and combative, behaviour towards the owner of the farm at our meetings. I was very uncomfortable at this unprofessional and aggressive approach.
Also, to have community council secretary June McGregor say, in her letter, that the council objected to the expansion, when nobody asked me to vote on this, is therefore incorrect. Then to send this letter in her capacity as secretary is a disgrace and, as a member of the council, I was embarrassed.
I never wanted any part in this witch-hunt against the MacLeans.
The former planning representative, with what I can only describe as gleeful enthusiasm, could not wait to send a message of support in respect of the housing application next door to the egg farm, which the MacLeans had objected to on very sound grounds – it is not practical to build houses up against a working farm.
The majority of community council members were not involved in this witch-hunt, and are great people who care about the villages they represent.
But we have some rotten eggs – pardon the pun – who are dragging the council down, and I think it would be best for them to retire, allowing new and fresh minds to take over.
I was so disgusted at the treatment of the owners of the farm, as well as lack of progress on simple issues, that I resigned my position with the council.
The moment I saw the letter by Mrs McGregor I knew I wanted no part in an organisation where it has people more interested in their own self-importance, and not the best interests of the people they are meant to represent.
BRUSSELS MAKING THE DECISIONS
Many viewers (young and not so young) believe BBC TV presenters and vote accordingly (one reason why the Labour vote was higher than expected), plus Nicola Sturgeon’s incessant second-referendum bleating helped the Tories considerably in Scotland.
The First Minister is still singing the same song and excuses about “reckless Tory pursuit of hard Brexit”.
Even she must be able to see that it is Brussels who will be making the decisions, not London or Edinburgh because of our weakened governments.
We will be far better off as an independent country than dealing with the great and the good in Brussels – or anywhere else.
CONGRATULATIONS TO CANDIDATES
I should like to offer my congratulations to John Lamont and Rachael Hamilton for their success in last week’s Election.
I was shocked by the unpleasant, vitriolic and inaccurate comments about John Lamont printed in the Berwickshire News recently. I think the results speak for themselves – over 11,000 votes for John and over 9,000 votes for Rachael Hamilton.
MAY’S ‘COALITION OF CHAOS’
And the ‘Mystic Meg’ prize for predictions goes to Theresa May, who rightly forecast that Thursday’s election would lead to a “coalition of chaos” and that its leader would have the character stain of “support for terrorism”.
Sadly for Mrs May, however, the “coalition of chaos” is of her own making, with “Conservative” written all over it. And to make matters worse, she is the one creating links with terrorism via the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party).
One has to wonder how the DUP’s connection with Unionist terrorists and gangsters has managed to swerve the rigorous media questioning that Sinn Fein has rightly been subjected to; and in the case of Martin Mc Guinness, right up till his death.
Given all that, and the reams I could fill if I had space, there’s the usual stock-in-trade of religious fundamentalism to contend with, anti-women, homophobia, anti-LGBT etc.
What have the British people done to deserve this scourge on the face of justice, or Mrs May whose ability to make poor judgement is more insufferable day-by-day.
PROPPED UP BY ULSTER PROTESTANTS
Having argued successfully against a so-called “unwanted and divisive referendum”, is our newly-elected Member of Parliament willing to join a campaign against an “unwanted and divisive Westminster government” propped up by the votes of 300,000 Ulster Protestants, brought about as a consequence of an “unwanted and divisive general election”?
PLEASE GIVE IT A REST FOR A WHILE
Given that more than 60% of votes cast in Scotland in last week’s general election were in favour of parties opposed to a second independence referendum, would it be asking too much of Nicola Sturgeon and her acolytes (including those who regularly fill your letters columns) to give it a rest for a while?
THERESA’S POOR JUDGEMENT
So much for Theresa May’s judgement – calling an election to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations, but finishing up weaker.
William W. Scott
St Baldred’s Road
A WONDERFUL MESSAGE
After the largest gathering yet at Netherdale in Galashiels on Sunday, June 11, can we say a huge thank-you to all who made the Cameron Gunn Memorial Football Festival such a success.
When we started the competition 26 years ago shortly after Cameron’s death, it was on the tiny pitch between Clovenfords and Caddonfoot, and was played between teams representing Exacta Circuits in Selkirk and Laidlaw and Fairgrieve from Galashiels, all of whom were Cameron’s own friends and workmates.
Last year the event became the largest one-day event of its kind in Europe when it topped at around 1,200 entries, with children from under-5s to the most senior event, the under-17s final for the Cameron Gunn Trophy on the 3G pitch which is the home of Gala Fairydean Rovers. This year we exceeded even that huge total when an extra dimension, with teams of young girls from under-7 was added, and put the total up about another 250.
Drew Kelly, from Live Borders, was a tower of strength, and Brian Smith and Georgina Boggs, from the Scottish Borders Junior Football Association, co-ordinated the senior event.
Gala Fairydean, of course, deserve thanks with their office-bearers, staff and members helping out yet again.
A word about the referees who officiated in the senior events. They were short in numbers this year, but high in talent and fairness when it came to keeping the games flowing. They had a long day, but smiled throughout.
The coaches and staff of all the clubs in the Borders and beyond, even down into Northumberland, are due a lot of praise, and the young players, from P1 age up to under-17, once again showed that the national game is very much alive in this area of Scotland.
Finally, can we thank all stall-holders and providers of food and soft drinks, etc. for keeping this huge gathering of people fed and watered, and the mums, dads, aunties, uncles and grandpas and grannies who joined in the spirit of the day.
Wilma and Kenneth Gunn
Scottish HART (heart at risk testing)
(a registered Scottish charity)
BURNMOUTH RNLI CONCERT
On behalf of Burnmouth RNLI branch members, I would like to thank all who came along and supported our concert on Friday, June 2.
A big thank you to the Echo Choir, lifeboat crew and friends for the brilliant entertainment of song, fun and laughter, and to Oliver for his moving rendering of Bob’s Lifeboat Poems. A total of £484 was raised.
Our next event will be cream teas on Sunday, August 20, 2-4pm.