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Ronan's report

Tuesday January 8th, 2007

While Bob was thinking about NZed access, I was reading a very different side of the coin in my local paper.

"Government ministers have been asked to intervene in the bizarre case of a group of Aberdeen Residents who claim they have been banned from walking along the banks of a city river for 40 years."

The long and short of this is that years ago young guys were found poaching salmon. These were separate cases over a period of many years, so this was how poaching was dealt with back then. Get caught fishing illegally and not only get a small fine for taking fish, typically the owner of the land and/or fishing also goes to court and asks for an exclusion order - an interim interdict - which makes it illegal for the person named on the interdict to be on that piece of land. In these cases a relatively small strip of riverbank.

The idea is relatively simple - make it harder for poachers to be near the river and easier for the authorities to take action if convicted poachers are found near the river.

My local paper takes a curious stance on this, they seem to trivialise the whole thing, as if these are just childhood incidents of teenagers stumbling across a few stranded salmon - rather than deliberate crimes.

But then statements like "The only time I have been convicted of poaching on their properties was after I had been banned." from someone who was first banned from that few miles of riverbank in 1967 and has been jailed for poaching four times since the ban, tends to suggest a pattern. It makes me think that far from being hi-jinx poaching was quite deliberate and repeated over many many years. He was caught several times - I assume he was not caught every time. But then he says 'he stopped poaching 10 or 15 years ago' - so that's all right then?

What comes across quite clearly from the newspaper editorial and from the poachers themselves is that they think their actions were trivial. In a way I can ignore that poachers think that killing a few fish is trivial, I'm baffled by the attitude of the journalists, but, it seems to me, they are probably representative of the non-angling public in this country.

They have no idea what damage poaching does. I don't know how these guys caught fish - they may have been fly-fishing for all I know. When organized poaching was big criminal business in Scotland, nets and Cymag were standard methods. Place a net across the river, walk upstream and tip Cymag (mainly Sodium Cyanide) into the river, kill every living thing, which floats down into the nets and off to market.

Needless to say, the poison often continued its slaughter as it washed downstream. Skilled poachers could judge how little Cymag was needed, the heavy handed could wipe out miles of life.

And they wonder why poachers were banned from walking along rivers?


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