Extension of the River Tay: bringing much needed funds to the Tay Foundation while boosting the rural economy...
Extension on the main stem (autumn run)= over £30k/year for improving the entire Tay district
The salmon angling season on the River Tay and its tributaries currently starts on 15 January and closes on 15 October. On the rivers Earn and Eden, which are also within the Tay district, the seasons start slightly later but close on 31 October.
Given that the best catches of the season were often made in the last two weeks of the season, this may have meant that a greater proportion of the "autumn" run was occurring after the end of the angling season. Indeed, in some years, the run would appear to have continued at some level until into January.
On the basis of latening runs, it was decided in 2011 to review the closing and opening dates of the Tay season.
During the trial extension period it was legal requirement that all salmon caught had to be released and appropriate methods only were used (i.e. no bait). Furthermore 30% of the revenues generated by proprietors were to be donated to the Tay Foundation.
Revenues raised by the trial extension for the Tay Foundation environmental charity:
2011 £5,270 (the license was granted end of August 2011 not giving enough time to sell the fishing, hence small number)
The extension trial was a welcome boost for the local economy (shops, hotels, restaurants...) and more gereraly tourism (Autumn fishing attracting typically more high-end visitors, especially from abroad)
Information was collected from these fish on their abundance, sizes, approximate time of entry to the river etc. Photographs and scale samples to allow ageing were obtained on some beats.
As part of that process it was necessary to obtain information about the types and numbers of fish which might be expected to be caught if the season was to be extended permanently. As that was unlikely to be reliably obtained in one year, permission was sought and obtained for a trial extension to the 31st of October for three years, commencing October 2011. This trial was restricted to the main stem of the Tay only, from Perth up to Dalguise. It did not apply to the upper Tay or tributaries.
The rationale for this was that autumn salmon are a distinct sub-stock of the salmon within the river and are thought to mainly spawn in the main stem of the river. The upper tributaries of the Tay mainly produce spring salmon and summer running grilse.It would not be appropriate to conduct such a trial in areas which are dominated by spring salmon which are very close to spawning by the end of October.
Having completed the trial in October 2014, the Board’s priority was to decide whether to seek to make the extension permanent or otherwise. Accordingly, an AGM was held on 17 November 2014 to consider this. Those proprietors who could not attend were given the opportunity for a postal vote. In the event, 37% voted for no future extension, 35% voted to apply for an extension with no financial contribution to the Tay Foundation and 28% voted for an extension with a 25% contribution to the Tay Foundation. While “no” was the highest individual vote, it was felt that, because there was a majority (63%) for some form of “yes”, proprietors should be given the opportunity to further clarify their position. Proprietors were then invited to vote for either “no” or for an extension with a 25% contribution of gross extension letting income to the Tay Foundation for several years until revaluation of rateable values caught up with the changed circumstances. This concluding vote took place at the Annual Meeting of Proprietors on 12 December 2014. “No” won the vote with 56% of the votes cast. 49% of all proprietors voted (234 votes). It was decided therefore not to continue with the extension. While the trial extension was only limited to the middle and lower part of the Tay, a condition of participation was that one third of the letting income derived was donated to the Tay Foundation to facilitate improvement and other projects throughout the entire district, not just those areas which are participating in the trial. Report here.