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An rud bhios na do bhroin, cha bhi e na do thiomhnadh
"That which you have wasted will not be there for future generations"

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Guest Column, May 2004

George Westropp had a distinguished career in journalism and retired recently as a Director of the firm Deloitte Touche. He is now chairman of the Salmon & Trout Association Trust. Here, he invites all those with an interest in the conservation of wild salmond stocks to help to preserve the species.

Working for UK Salmonids: A Challenge to Readers of the Salmon Farm Monitor

George Westropp

Have you heard of the Salmon & Trout Association Trust? I hadn’t until about three years ago - the S&TA, of course, but not the Trust. Having now taken on the chairmanship of the Trust, my task with the other trustees is to make sure you will hear about it in the months and years ahead.

The Trust was formed in 1989 as a charity. Its aim is ‘to advance public education in and the promotion of conservation of fish populations in all running waters of the United Kingdom including rivers, streams, lakes, lochs, reservoirs and ponds.’

So the job of the Trust is not to improve fishing per se or represent the interest of gamefishers. That is responsibility of the Association.

Although we are interested in helping all fish populations in this country, our main focus is naturally on salmonids. We have supported a number of good conservation and environmental projects over the last year or so. These included major participation in the Monnow Improvement Project, which – with funding from the Trust and Defra – enable considerable work to be carried out last summer.

Our support for the Portsoy & District Angling Association’s hatchery, restocking and conservation programme means that its acquisition of converted farm buildings, tanks and equipment now hold some 12,000 fry to restock the Boyne Burn in Banff, Scotland. We co-funded the Wester Ross Brown Trout study and continue to help the River Clyde Foundation’s Project to clean the Clyde and its tributaries.

In England, the Trust has been helping to fund the River Witham Habitats Improvement Project in Lincolnshire. The habitat restoration scheme of the Grantham Angling Association’s Fly Fishing Section on the Witham has now won conservation awards.

I believe that these are just the sort of schemes that the Trust should be getting behind. They may not be making waves nationally but they make a difference locally.

But the trustees know that this is not enough. To be able to support many more projects like these, we do need to grab headlines by becoming involved in projects with a truly national (and with salmon, international) dimension. We will not be able to raise the funds to do so unless people have heard of us and the work we enable through funding.

The way ahead for the Trust, I believe, is good science. We should support scientific work which is relevant to those of us who really care about our salmonid populations. But the science and the outputs must be understood by the people who matter and can get things changed – fishery owners, Government, the civil service, the media, business and even Brussels.

An awful lot happens at sea to our salmon and sea trout that we don’t understand and the more work done on that topic the better (including the impact of salmon farms!). However, the Trust must concentrate on the United Kingdom and around our coastline before we expand our horizons to the high seas just yet.

Whatever we do in the future depends on money. Actually, the more cash we need to raise will reflect our energy and success as trustees in finding suitable projects to fund – and then doing so. The more exciting the project, the more scope there is to tap funding.

We will go out and seek money for specific schemes but we still need funding for the good bread and butter work that we have underway and hope to continue. We are starting later this year with a mixed auction of fishing, shooting and horse-related lots and more news on that score shortly. If you have some fishing to donate to help the cause, please let me know.

So I would like to put out a challenge for the Salmon Farm Protest Group’s web magazine. What and where are the projects around the well-being, survival and success of salmonid populations that you think are worthy of the support of the Trust? If you have any ideas or know of projects that deserve support, let me know direct by email; george.westropp@btinternet.com. You can also check our website for more information: www.salmontrouttrust.org.uk.