River Earn Improvement Association

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History

The Association was formed in 1977 by a number of proprietors with fishing rights on the River Earn, the five local angling Clubs, and other interested individuals. It was formally constituted in that year, as the River Earn Angling Improvement Association. That name was changed to the River Earn Improvement Association at the Annual General Meeting in 2002 to enable an application to be made for charitable status. The Association became a registered Scottish Charity on 28th March, 2002. Itís a non profit-making organisation whose income is derived from subscriptions and donations.

In the early days the Association was involved in stocking small brown trout, salmon and sea-trout eggs. It also put larger brown trout in the river for a while but this proved too expensive. Attempts were made to encourage greater release of compensation water by the then North of Scotland Hydro-Electricity Board. All-day symposia and evening lectures were arranged that were open to the public.

The Association is an entirely voluntary body. It has no statutory authority. All decisions regarding stocking and river management require the approval of the Tay District Salmon Fishery Board. Part of our work is supervised by the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department (formerly the Scottish Office).

In 1989 we bought 12 netting stations from the Salmon Fisheries Company, at a cost of £15,000. These netting stations were then taken out of use as part of the Associationís conservation policy. They have remained so since. 

We were approached by the owner of the Forleven netting station in April 2001, with an offer to sell his salmon fishing rights. After as prolonged legal process the transaction was successfully concluded in February 2002. There is now only one operational netting station left on the Earn. We donated £1000 to the Tay Foundation in 1997 to enable them to obtain a 99 year lease on the remaining operational Tay netting stations. We gave further £1000 to the North Atlantic Salmon Fund to assist in the purchase of the North - East drift nets.

In 1990 we were successful in having a Trout Protection Order applied to the River Earn by the then Secretary of State for Scotland. This has the effect of protecting the stocks of wild brown trout from over-exploitation while at the same time guaranteeing a reasonable level of access to visiting anglers. The operation of this is monitored by the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department.

 In 1990 we established the first of two hatcheries. One at Balloch, courtesy of Drummond Estate, the other on the Blairinroar road, courtesy of Major Melville of Strowan.  Salmon and sea-trout are captured in the autumn and stripped to obtain eggs that are then fetilised in the hatchery. These are grown to a size sufficient for them to be placed in the river, in the expectation that they will hatch, the juveniles grow, and eventually migrate to sea, grow and return. In this way we aim to improve the declining population of these fish in the river system.

All work is carried out by volunteers. We have benefited from being granted the use of land, buildings, equipment, material and expert assistance from local estates. The Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board provides members of its bailiff force to assist us with electrofishing and has donated salmon brood stock and equipment.

In 2004 we were presented with new hatching troughs by the Tay Ghilliesí Association. The number of eggs obtained recently has now required us to have some incubated in the new TDSFB hatchery at Almondbank.

As part of our habitat improvement work we have been involved a project on half a mile of the Lennoch Burn near Comrie since 2002, in association with the Wild Trout Trust, who have given us professional guidance and a grant of £2000 that we supplemented with some of our own funds. The area has been fenced off, trees coppiced or felled, brash chipped or burned and the drainage of the outflow enhanced. There is already considerable improvement in the bank-side vegetation and in the flow and purity of the water and of the condition of the gravel. Regular monitoring of the populations of invertebrates and juvenile fish is undertaken.

It is our intention to undertake other such projects in the Earn system, working together with the Clubs, the proprietors, the TDSFB and SEPA.

In the summer of 2005 we were approached by the owner of the Tay Salmon Fisheries Company. He offered to transfer to our ownership the salmon netting rights of twenty-five netting stations situated on either side of the Tay estuary, below the confluence with the Earn, in exchange for the land we acquired when we purchased the netting rights on the Earn. This would be done through the vehicle of the Earn and Tay Trust, a charitable organisation devoted to improving the habitat of the Tay and lower Earn, that he proposed to set up in Association with University of Dundee.

After considerable discussion the Committee agreed to accepted the titles of the Tay netting stations, in perpetuity, while guaranteeing never to exercise them. As a result, we have protected ourselves from any resumption of netting on the lower Tay and trebled the number of netting stations we own.