LETTER: Action needed to save the Cree

As a visiting angler, I have fished on the River Cree, Penkiln Burn and occasionally on the River Minnoch for the past 40 years. I am now at the stage when I feel the need to express my concerns with regard to the annual deterioration in the state of the river, namely the stocks of fish.

When I first fished in the area, although stocks of salmon were not as plentiful as in the halcyon years, I could after several weeks’ fishing see a reasonable reward for my efforts.

Not now.

What are the reasons for the present situation and, more importantly, what is being done to rectify the situation?

Through my own interest and research, I am aware of the numerous factors that have had a cumulative detrimental effect on salmon stocks – for example, marine influences, poor water quality, forestry activity, and so on. These are issues that have influenced many rivers around the UK.

However, it would appear that on many other rivers the local river boards or trusts have been proactive over a number of years in introducing an ongoing, concentrated programme of practical 
habitat restoration work and 
activities to redress the decline 
of salmon stocks, by improving 
the overall quality of the spawning grounds. I believe the Galloway Fisheries Trust has been responsible and has been employed by the River Cree and District Fishery Board to maintain and develop the river system over the past 
20 years to promote the maxi­misation of salmon returns.

As of now, it would appear to an outsider that this intervention has failed.

What are the reasons for this failure? Through my own observations and conversations with local anglers I am all too aware of the obvious signs of neglect and lack of ongoing maintenance of many of the burns that feed the main rivers in the Cree system.

Who is responsible for this work and why has this neglect been allowed to develop? I am sure that other visiting anglers could express their own disappointments and concerns with respect to the decline in the reputation of the River Cree as a fine salmon river, but maybe they will just vote with their feet and cease their visits.

As a consequence of these actions, I am sure I do not have to point out the serious financial implications to the local economy. Many businesses in Newton Stewart could well do without this in times of recession.

What about local anglers? Surely to ensure the continuation of the leisure opportunities for the local community they deserve more effort being applied to improve the present poor state of the river. Many have and I am more than willing to become involved in any practical work that will help protect the future of the river. If the volunteers are there, why are they not being given the full support of all the relevant agencies to commit their efforts to the whole of the river system?

How is it that in other rural areas of Scotland this has been realised and something has been done about it?

A beautiful river system like the Cree and the Newton Stewart area deserves more direct effort to be applied. So, come on, don’t just sit around talking about it and at the same time continue to watch the deterioration of Newton Stewart’s most valuable of assets.

Do something about it now or it will be too late.

The Cree River has been my favourite fishing haunt; please ensure it remains so.

Colin Leatherbarrow,

54 Westmorland Road,

Urmston, Manchester.