Boats on the Ythan estuary, Newburgh

Boats on the Ythan estuary, Newburgh

Strapline

Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd is Scotland’s largest commercial salmon netting company, operating stations on the country's North and East coasts, including two at Gamrie Bay on the Moray Firth. see story accompanying Gardenstown photo in North-East Scotland gallery. On 6th April 2014 Usan Fisheries decided not to exercise its recently acquired rights to establish a commercial netting operation in the estuary of the River Ythan and on the adjacent coastline at Newburgh, Aberdeenshire. Usan had already abandoned an application to Marine Scotland for seal slaughter there, but says that it will continue with plans to exercise angling rights. Charges for angling on the estuary have rocketed since Usan acquired the fishing rights.

Over 1000 seals have been shot in Scottish waters to protect commercial wild salmon farming and their nets in the last two years. In 2013, twenty seals were killed in two weeks by Usan employees at their Gamrie Bay stations. Usan's trigger-happy antics continued, but it halted the cull at Gamrie. Their contracted marksmen were confronted at Gardenstown harbour by activists from wildlife conservation group Sea Shepherd. The company says it is going to remove firearms from its operations - acoustic devices will be used to drive seals away from the nets.

Updates 2015:-
A) May 20th: the Fisheries Boards of the Rivers Ythan, Spey, Dee and Don have clubbed together to pay Usan 'a considerable sum in compensation' to block netting for a year to save the dwindling populations of salmon and trout, at risk mainly because of Usan's netting activities. This is monopolisation of salmon netting rights: to then get paid for not netting is stupid. The Scottish Government have failed to implement legislation to limit catches or stop netting outright. Angling groups should have the pre-emptive right to purchase netting rights when they come on to the market.

B) April 22nd from Captain Paul Watson, Seal Defence Campaign (Scotland)
Four of our crew have again travelled to the Ythan estuary at Newburgh where there is a large seal colony potentially at risk from the future activities of Usan. This new fishing of the Ythan river might start during May. Using the Net & Coble method, it is allegedly going to involve the deployment of acoustic devices (pingers) designed to scare away seals. Sea Shepherd will help local activists by watching the situation at the Ythan during 2015 to ensure no harm is caused to the seals.

C) Another body of a seal shot by Usan marksmen was washed up at Crovie in July 2015.

Usan on the Ythan and at Gamrie Bay

At the Ythan estuary, fishermen and anglers have contributed large sums towards fish conservation on the 'working man's river', including the buyout and closing of the netting station. The anglers follow crucial guidelines to ensure the sustainability of the habitat and the ecosystem’s Atlantic wild salmon and sea trout stock. Part of the National Nature Reserve managed by Scottish Natural Heritage, the Ythan estuary at Newburgh and the golden Sands of Forvie are a Site of Scientific Interest, a haunt popular with tourists. Changes to freshwater fishery production and management, coastal fishing practice and seafood/marine life collection (including sport fishing and angling) require the consent of Scottish Natural Heritage.

River and Fishery Boards, representative associations, conservationists and anglers were dismayed by news that Angus-based Usan Salmon Fisheries had bought angling and netting rights on the estuary (and adjacent foreshore) from Udny & Dudwick Estates. Usan has never paid a penny towards conservation on the Ythan. The company court controversy, last year upsetting anglers by calling for them to return rod and net salmon caught before mid-May, 'because current practice unfairly castigates netting businesses'. Unlike netted, rod-caught salmon cannot be sold (legally). In 2013 rod-caught catches of wild salmon in Scotland plummeted to the lowest reported level in a decade. The number killed in nets increased by 50%.

Owned by the Pullar family, Usan harvest under the brand name Scottish Wild Salmon Company, operating netting stations on Scotland's North and East coasts, including two at Gamrie Bay on the Moray Firth. It exports the fish to top European restaurants. 'Scottish Wild Salmon (an EU-protected food name) is sold all over the world and should rightly continue to be recognized as one of Scotland’s finest exports,' says Usan Fisheries director George Pullar.

On 6th April 2014, following 'extensive deliberation' amid a barrage of protests, Usan decided not to exercise its rights for commercial netting on the Ythan. Furthermore it ruled out purchasing any more netting rights elsewhere in Scotland. Usan 'will encourage public angling on the estuary', processing fishing rights unexercised since 1997. After 'careful consideration', Usan have withdrawn their application for a seal cull on the Ythan.

Legal limits on the number of seals that fisheries are permitted to shoot is "pointless", according to George Pullar. In the November 2nd minutes of the 2013 meeting of the Salmon Net Fishing Association of Scotland (leaked to the Sunday Herald), he was quoted as saying that netting companies should be able to shoot as many seals as was necessary to protect their salmon. The Scottish Government's licensing scheme controlling the number of seals killed each year was "not practical", he asserts.

On average 10 seals are shot every week in Scotland. Over 1000 seals have been slaughtered in Scottish waters to protect commercial salmon farming and their nets in the last three years. In 2013, twenty seals were killed in a fortnight by Usan marksmen at their Gamrie Bay stations. Residents in the former fishing villages of Gardenstown and Crovie witnessed seals being shot in open, public view. The hunt was also highly unpopular with tourists. Anti-seal shooting activists the Seal Protection Action Group opposed Usan, asking potential tourists to stay away from North-East Scotland after TV presenter Neil Oliver, the face and voice of VisitScotland’s £350,000 "Surprise Yourself" initiative, launched a campaign promoting Scotland as a top location for watching wild creatures (being shot). Usan's activities continued at Gamrie. 'Seal numbers are not growing.' Letter from John F Robins, 2nd May

On April 22nd 2014, with the Hunt Saboteurs Association joining a newly-established environmentalists' camp at Gardenstown and campaigners threatening to form a human shield around the seals, Usan's contracted marksmen were confronted at the harbour by eco-activists from protest group Sea Shepherd, some just back in Britain after a campaign against whalers in Japan. Seal killers threaten Sea Shepherd crew Like a shot (sic), the company said that it was removing firearms from operational use and would rely on non-lethal control measures - erecting barriers and using acoustic devices - to deter seals from going near their (strengthened) nets.

EU-subsidised Usan is covered by compensation payments if mixed stock commercial netting is banned in the future. Indiscriminate netting decimates migratory fish stocks. Mixed stock coastal stations catch any salmon passing by, regardless of where they are heading or the strength of the various populations in their home rivers, making the management of individual river stocks impossible.

'Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to stop issuing licences permitting salmon farming, salmon netting and salmon angling interests to shoot and kill seals in Scottish waters and instead require that salmon farmers either move their farms into on-shore tank systems or legally require marine salmon farmers to install and maintain the high-strength, high tension predator exclusion nets they require to meet their legal obligation under the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 to protect their stock from the attention of predators. We further ask that the Scottish Parliament ask the Scottish Government to legislate to close down all salmon netting stations in Scottish waters thus allowing tens of thousands of Atlantic Salmon and sea trout to return to their native rivers to breed.' Save Scotland's Seals petition.

Current controversies have spawned a conflict between fish farming and wild salmon fishery interests. Ullapool-based Protect Wild Salmon have accused the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS) of collaborating with fish farmers by identifying sensitive areas where the aquaculture industry could expand. A freshwater conservation body, RAFTS's work involves investigating fish farm locations, wild and farmed salmon cross-breeding and problems with sea lice.

Further seal and salmon stories accompany the 'River Spey' image in the East Coast to West gallery and 'Scottish & Canadian seal stories' in the Collieston & Forvie gallery.

The name 'Ythan' is believed to have originated from a Pictish word of Brythonic origin meaning gorse. The Pictish language is extinct. Insular Celtic names come from Common Brittonic language which includes Welsh, Cornish and Breton. There may be inks to the River Avon, of which there is one in Banffshire.

Contact us for details of Marine Scotland's proposed seal haul-out sites (November 2015 update).
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Boats on the Ythan estuary, Newburgh

Boats on the Ythan estuary, Newburgh

Strapline

Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd is Scotland’s largest commercial salmon netting company, operating stations on the country's North and East coasts, including two at Gamrie Bay on the Moray Firth. see story accompanying Gardenstown photo in North-East Scotland gallery. On 6th April 2014 Usan Fisheries decided not to exercise its recently acquired rights to establish a commercial netting operation in the estuary of the River Ythan and on the adjacent coastline at Newburgh, Aberdeenshire. Usan had already abandoned an application to Marine Scotland for seal slaughter there, but says that it will continue with plans to exercise angling rights. Charges for angling on the estuary have rocketed since Usan acquired the fishing rights.

Over 1000 seals have been shot in Scottish waters to protect commercial wild salmon farming and their nets in the last two years. In 2013, twenty seals were killed in two weeks by Usan employees at their Gamrie Bay stations. Usan's trigger-happy antics continued, but it halted the cull at Gamrie. Their contracted marksmen were confronted at Gardenstown harbour by activists from wildlife conservation group Sea Shepherd. The company says it is going to remove firearms from its operations - acoustic devices will be used to drive seals away from the nets.

Updates 2015:-
A) May 20th: the Fisheries Boards of the Rivers Ythan, Spey, Dee and Don have clubbed together to pay Usan 'a considerable sum in compensation' to block netting for a year to save the dwindling populations of salmon and trout, at risk mainly because of Usan's netting activities. This is monopolisation of salmon netting rights: to then get paid for not netting is stupid. The Scottish Government have failed to implement legislation to limit catches or stop netting outright. Angling groups should have the pre-emptive right to purchase netting rights when they come on to the market.

B) April 22nd from Captain Paul Watson, Seal Defence Campaign (Scotland)
Four of our crew have again travelled to the Ythan estuary at Newburgh where there is a large seal colony potentially at risk from the future activities of Usan. This new fishing of the Ythan river might start during May. Using the Net & Coble method, it is allegedly going to involve the deployment of acoustic devices (pingers) designed to scare away seals. Sea Shepherd will help local activists by watching the situation at the Ythan during 2015 to ensure no harm is caused to the seals.

C) Another body of a seal shot by Usan marksmen was washed up at Crovie in July 2015.

Usan on the Ythan and at Gamrie Bay

At the Ythan estuary, fishermen and anglers have contributed large sums towards fish conservation on the 'working man's river', including the buyout and closing of the netting station. The anglers follow crucial guidelines to ensure the sustainability of the habitat and the ecosystem’s Atlantic wild salmon and sea trout stock. Part of the National Nature Reserve managed by Scottish Natural Heritage, the Ythan estuary at Newburgh and the golden Sands of Forvie are a Site of Scientific Interest, a haunt popular with tourists. Changes to freshwater fishery production and management, coastal fishing practice and seafood/marine life collection (including sport fishing and angling) require the consent of Scottish Natural Heritage.

River and Fishery Boards, representative associations, conservationists and anglers were dismayed by news that Angus-based Usan Salmon Fisheries had bought angling and netting rights on the estuary (and adjacent foreshore) from Udny & Dudwick Estates. Usan has never paid a penny towards conservation on the Ythan. The company court controversy, last year upsetting anglers by calling for them to return rod and net salmon caught before mid-May, 'because current practice unfairly castigates netting businesses'. Unlike netted, rod-caught salmon cannot be sold (legally). In 2013 rod-caught catches of wild salmon in Scotland plummeted to the lowest reported level in a decade. The number killed in nets increased by 50%.

Owned by the Pullar family, Usan harvest under the brand name Scottish Wild Salmon Company, operating netting stations on Scotland's North and East coasts, including two at Gamrie Bay on the Moray Firth. It exports the fish to top European restaurants. 'Scottish Wild Salmon (an EU-protected food name) is sold all over the world and should rightly continue to be recognized as one of Scotland’s finest exports,' says Usan Fisheries director George Pullar.

On 6th April 2014, following 'extensive deliberation' amid a barrage of protests, Usan decided not to exercise its rights for commercial netting on the Ythan. Furthermore it ruled out purchasing any more netting rights elsewhere in Scotland. Usan 'will encourage public angling on the estuary', processing fishing rights unexercised since 1997. After 'careful consideration', Usan have withdrawn their application for a seal cull on the Ythan.

Legal limits on the number of seals that fisheries are permitted to shoot is "pointless", according to George Pullar. In the November 2nd minutes of the 2013 meeting of the Salmon Net Fishing Association of Scotland (leaked to the Sunday Herald), he was quoted as saying that netting companies should be able to shoot as many seals as was necessary to protect their salmon. The Scottish Government's licensing scheme controlling the number of seals killed each year was "not practical", he asserts.

On average 10 seals are shot every week in Scotland. Over 1000 seals have been slaughtered in Scottish waters to protect commercial salmon farming and their nets in the last three years. In 2013, twenty seals were killed in a fortnight by Usan marksmen at their Gamrie Bay stations. Residents in the former fishing villages of Gardenstown and Crovie witnessed seals being shot in open, public view. The hunt was also highly unpopular with tourists. Anti-seal shooting activists the Seal Protection Action Group opposed Usan, asking potential tourists to stay away from North-East Scotland after TV presenter Neil Oliver, the face and voice of VisitScotland’s £350,000 "Surprise Yourself" initiative, launched a campaign promoting Scotland as a top location for watching wild creatures (being shot). Usan's activities continued at Gamrie. 'Seal numbers are not growing.' Letter from John F Robins, 2nd May

On April 22nd 2014, with the Hunt Saboteurs Association joining a newly-established environmentalists' camp at Gardenstown and campaigners threatening to form a human shield around the seals, Usan's contracted marksmen were confronted at the harbour by eco-activists from protest group Sea Shepherd, some just back in Britain after a campaign against whalers in Japan. Seal killers threaten Sea Shepherd crew Like a shot (sic), the company said that it was removing firearms from operational use and would rely on non-lethal control measures - erecting barriers and using acoustic devices - to deter seals from going near their (strengthened) nets.

EU-subsidised Usan is covered by compensation payments if mixed stock commercial netting is banned in the future. Indiscriminate netting decimates migratory fish stocks. Mixed stock coastal stations catch any salmon passing by, regardless of where they are heading or the strength of the various populations in their home rivers, making the management of individual river stocks impossible.

'Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to stop issuing licences permitting salmon farming, salmon netting and salmon angling interests to shoot and kill seals in Scottish waters and instead require that salmon farmers either move their farms into on-shore tank systems or legally require marine salmon farmers to install and maintain the high-strength, high tension predator exclusion nets they require to meet their legal obligation under the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 to protect their stock from the attention of predators. We further ask that the Scottish Parliament ask the Scottish Government to legislate to close down all salmon netting stations in Scottish waters thus allowing tens of thousands of Atlantic Salmon and sea trout to return to their native rivers to breed.' Save Scotland's Seals petition.

Current controversies have spawned a conflict between fish farming and wild salmon fishery interests. Ullapool-based Protect Wild Salmon have accused the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS) of collaborating with fish farmers by identifying sensitive areas where the aquaculture industry could expand. A freshwater conservation body, RAFTS's work involves investigating fish farm locations, wild and farmed salmon cross-breeding and problems with sea lice.

Further seal and salmon stories accompany the 'River Spey' image in the East Coast to West gallery and 'Scottish & Canadian seal stories' in the Collieston & Forvie gallery.

The name 'Ythan' is believed to have originated from a Pictish word of Brythonic origin meaning gorse. The Pictish language is extinct. Insular Celtic names come from Common Brittonic language which includes Welsh, Cornish and Breton. There may be inks to the River Avon, of which there is one in Banffshire.

Contact us for details of Marine Scotland's proposed seal haul-out sites (November 2015 update).
Ref:
Date:
Location:
Photographer: