Lochrutton crayfish confirmed during River Nith checks

The presence of the invasive North American signal crayfish has been confirmed in a loch which drains into the River Nith in southern Scotland.

The North American signal crayfish has been blamed for destroying habitats in waterways

The find has provoked serious concerns about their potentially damaging impact on the environment and angling.

The Nith Catchment Fishery Trust verified the presence of the crayfish in the waters of Lochrutton.

It is also investigating reports of the species being found in the River Nith near the Kingholm Quay.

Survey work is now being carried out elsewhere in the lower reaches of the estuary.

A plan is also being formulated to prevent any further spread of the non-native crayfish.

The NCFT is working with Scottish Natural Heritage, the environmental watchdog Sepa, and Marine Scotland to develop a strategy.

Eradication is said to be impossible in such a large body of water as the River Nith.

Instead, the focus will be on educating the public on how to stop the species establishing itself in new areas.

Signal crayfish can be accidentally spread by using equipment, such as angling nets and boats, which have previously been used in water containing the creatures.

It is illegal to trap or move the fish and any caught accidentally must be killed on site.

The NCFT plans to set up signs highlighting the threat to the biosecurity of the river.

Story Reported by the BBC


Man dies after being swept off Arbroath rocks while fishing

A man has died after being swept out to sea from rocks while fishing on the coast of Angus.

Aberdeen Coastguard said the 49-year-old man was with two other men fishing off rocks on the east coast near Arbroath when he was swept in.

The group was in an area known as Diel’s Heid when the incident happened at about 12:20 on Sunday.

The man, who has not yet been identified, was recovered by the RNLI Arbroath inshore lifeboat.

Tayside Police said the Aberdeen Coastguard maintained contact with the witnesses and the man was located quickly, however, despite efforts to resuscitate him, he died at the scene.


Fishing leaders ‘disappointed’ after mackerel talks

Scottish fishing leaders have said they are disappointed that fresh discussions led to no agreement to end the long-running dispute over mackerel quotas.

Mackerel has been at the centre of an international dispute over quotas

The EU, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes were all represented at the talks.

The island nations have been criticised for declaring huge catches of the valuable fish in recent years, leading to fears for its sustainability.

The Scottish Pelagic Fishermens’ Association (SPFA) said Europe must now implement sanctions.

EU Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, was meeting with fisheries ministers from Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

SPFA chief executive, Ian Gatt, said:

“We are disappointed that there was no breakthrough.

“If it is not possible to reach agreement at this high level, then one has to question whether there is any hope at all for the next round of talks scheduled for October.

“This makes it even more important than ever that the European Parliament ratifies sanction measures against Iceland and the Faroes this month, and that the EU wastes no time in immediately implementing them.”

‘Sensible deal’
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said the outcome of the latest talks was “disappointing but sadly predictable”.

He added:

“Recent years show that Iceland and the Faroes have a track-record in demonstrating a lack of willingness to compromise and reach a fair deal for mackerel.

“By initiating these talks, Commissioner Damanaki has demonstrated her personal resolve to finding a solution that will see a sensible deal in place to safeguard the mackerel stock. However, once again diplomacy has failed.

“It’s unacceptable for any state to compromise the sustainability of a shared fishery by setting hugely inflated quotas. And if we continue to see self-interest and stubbornness as the hallmark of the Iceland and Faroese stances then we need the EU to be equipped to take meaningful action.”

Mackerel is the most valuable stock for the Scottish fleet.

Landings of the fish were worth £164m in 2011 – about a third of the Scottish total.

Story Reported by BBC 


Golden eagle: The shot bird was found by a member of the public.
Pic: Scottish SPCA

The Scottish SPCA was alerted on Saturday after a member of the public discovered the injured bird in north-east Dumfries and Galloway, adjacent to the Southern Upland Way.

The golden eagle is now receiving veterinary treatment and specialist care at the charity’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said:

“This eagle has been caused tremendous pain and suffering. It became grounded after being shot, which caused the feathers on its tail and wings to break and meant it was unable to search for food.

“If the eagle hadn’t been found on Saturday it is very likely it would have starved to death. Golden eagles are extremely rare and it is very concerning that someone would deliberately try to injure or kill such a magnificent creature.

“As well as being cruel, injuring a wild bird is also a criminal offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and we are very keen to speak to anyone who has information about this incident. This eagle will require lengthy rehabilitation and expert treatment in our care.

“Although it’s very early days yet, it is feeding now and we are hopeful it will make a full recovery and we will be able to release it back into the wild next year.”

Stuart Housden, director RSPB Scotland, said:

“With one golden eagle already found poisoned this year, and a second bird the apparent victim of an illegal trap, this is yet another appalling incident. Whoever pulled the trigger must have deliberately targeted one of our most iconic birds, with lethal intentions.

“Whoever it was has access to a shotgun, and the confidence to use it in this area. Much has been made of an apparent recent decline in the illegal poisoning of Scotland’s birds of prey, but this, and other recent criminal incidents, show that efforts to stamp out the illegal persecution of strictly protected wildlife have a considerable way to go.”

The Scottish SPCA Animal Helpline is 03000 999 999.



The golden eagle was found under a tree near a country road

A golden eagle suffered a lingering death after its legs were broken by a trap, RSPB Scotland has said.

The bird had been fitted with a satellite transmitter which showed it had not moved for several days.

Its body was found, lying face down with its wings folded, under a tree and close to a lay-by on a quiet country road near Aboyne on Deeside.

RSPB Scotland has offered a £1,000 reward for information that leads to a successful prosecution in the case.

The bird was found on 5 May, before being taken for a post-mortem examination at the Scottish Agricultural College laboratory in Aberdeen.

This concluded that the bird had suffered two broken legs due to trauma

“that could be consistent with an injury caused by a spring type trap” and that the severity of these injuries “would prevent the bird from being able to take off”.

The bird had been fitted with a transmitter by RSPB Scotland staff, in full partnership with a local landowner, a few days before it had fledged from a nest in the Monadhliath Mountains, south-east of Inverness, in July 2011.

Stuart Housden RSPB Scotland said –

“Anyone who cares about our wildlife will be disgusted by what appears to be an appalling crime and the lengths taken to hide the facts from discovery”

By re-examining the satellite data, RSPB Scotland staff discovered the young bird spent its first few months in that area before venturing further afield. By April 2012 it was frequenting an area of upper Deeside, before moving south-west into Glenshee.

On 28 April, the bird moved eastwards into Angus. The following day, at 06:00, the bird was located on a hillside overlooking Glen Esk.

Over the next 15 hours, a succession of satellite tag readings, accurate to within less than 20 metres, showed that the bird did not move from this precise spot until at least 21:00 that evening, after nightfall.

However, by 04:00 the next morning, it appeared to have travelled, during the hours of darkness, some 10 miles north, to the location where its body was discovered five days later.

Satellite readings revealed that while the bird did not move from this position, it was probably alive until 4 May.

Follow-up enquires by both Tayside and Grampian Police found no further evidence about how the eagle sustained its injuries.

Lingering death’

It could also not be established how the eagle came to move from Glen Esk to a position under a tree branch on Deeside overnight.

However, a number of eagle down-feathers were found between the lay-by and the bird’s final resting place.

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s head of investigations, commented:

“It is disgraceful that this magnificent bird was subjected to such suffering. The post-mortem evidence suggests that this bird was caught in an illegally-set trap, smashing both legs.

“The data obtained from the satellite transmitter indicated that the eagle did not move from one spot, on a hill high above Glen Esk, for over 15 hours.

“Then, during the night, when eagles do not readily fly, it has inexplicably moved to a new position, hidden under a tree and close to a road. Here, over the next four days, this eagle suffered a lingering death.”

‘Dreadful case’

Stuart Housden, RSPB Scotland director, added:

“Whilst efforts to stamp out the illegal poisoning of birds of prey are perhaps beginning to yield results, this dreadful case shows that the persecution of our raptors continues through the use of traps and other means.

“We call upon anyone who can provide further information about this case to contact the wildlife crime officer at either Tayside or Grampian Police without delay.

“Cases like this really do have a negative impact on Scotland’s reputation as a country that respects and values all its wildlife heritage. I am today offering a £1,000 reward for information that will assist a successful prosecution.”

A satellite-tagged golden eagle, named Alma by researchers, was found to have been illegally poisoned in Glen Esk in 2009, while other poisoned eagles fitted with transmitters were found in Grampian in 2011, and in Lochaber earlier this year.

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Supermarkets ban sale of Scottish mackerel

THREE of Scotland’s biggest supermarket chains have banned Scottish mackerel from shop shelves.

Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and The Co-Op say they will not buy the fish while its environmental certification has been suspended.

The suspension follows a dispute with Iceland and Faroe Islands who breached mackerel fishing quotas in the northeast Atlantic. Overfishing by the two countries meant quotas were exceeded by 25% in the past two years.

Mackerel fishing is worth £160million a year to the Scottish economy.

As a result the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) which certifies that fishing is sustainable, suspended certification of the entire mackerel fishery.

By far the country’s most valuable catch, Scottish fisherman landed around 146,000 tonnes of Mackerel, worth £163million, last year.

The industry is worth £160million a year to Scotland’s economy.

Fishing industry experts said they would be “extremely disappointed” if supermarkets abandoned selling Scottish mackerel.

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said:

“In light of the MSC’s decision to remove certification, and in line with our own sustainable sourcing policies, we have taken the decision to stop sourcing from the affected fisheries pending an agreement between the parties involved.”

Marks & Spencer said it would not buy Scottish mackerel unless it was certified by the MSC.

A spokeswoman added:

“Ensuring all of the fish we sell is from sustainable sources is at the heart of our business.”

The Co-Op said it was “working with our suppliers to find alternative sources.”

Tesco, Aldi, Waitrose and Morrisons said they had no plans to stop selling Scottish mackerel.

Labour Shadow environment secretary, Claire Baker, said supermarket confusion was unfair on consumers.

She said: “Many will feel caught between wanting to do the right thing in terms of sustainability and supporting the Scottish fishing fleet, which has done nothing wrong.”

She said the Scottish Government had a “woeful” lack of engagement with supermarkets and called on ministers to “urgently” engage with retailers in Scotland to make sure consumers and the mackerel fishing fleet can come through this difficult time as painlessly as possible.”

Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead, said he did not need a lecture on how to talk to supermarkets.

He said:

“I have personally raised my concerns over their sourcing of seafood on many occasions.

“Scotland’s priority is to have an international deal in place between all parties that protects the sustainability of the mackerel stock – but not at any price.”

Ian Gatt, the chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said it would be unfair to penalise Scottish fishing boats for a problem they did not cause.

He said:

“I’d be extremely disappointed if consumers in Scotland can’t buy Scottish mackerel.

“The stocks are still high enough for supermarkets to put Scottish mackerel on their shelves.”

Dramatic footage shows buzzard snatching osprey chick from its nest

An osprey chick being snatched from its nest by a buzzard has been captured in dramatic video footage.

The clipshows the chick’s mother flying away from the nest and a buzzard swooping in.

Rural businessowner Euan Webster saw the chick being taken by the buzzard at his property Lochter in Aberdeenshire. The chick was one of two that had hatched at the nest.

The half eaten carcass of the osprey chick was recovered near the nest earlier this week and it was confirmed on Wednesday that it is to be handed over to SASA (Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture, the ScottishGovernment laboratories) for proper analysis.

Mr Webster has 24/7 video surveillance on the nest for both wildlife watching for the enjoyment of the public in addition to protecting the rare ospreys.

He said: “This was a shocking act and clearly demonstrates why something needs to be done to control buzzards. It cannot be right that the buzzard remains protected yet they swarm over the countryside in large numbers eating prey, including iconic and beautiful birds such as ospreys, at will.

“Any farmer or shepherd will tell you about the threat from buzzards yet the powers that be are reluctant to face up to the fact that sooner rather than later measures have to put in place to control them. This incident should sound alarm bells among those who care about the conservation of our rarer wild birds such as ospreys in Scotland.

“As a former chairman of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Grampian regional group I am an enthusiastic believer in balanced and managed conservation. I know research by the trust is suggesting buzzards are active predators that may well be affecting conservation of birds in some parts of Scotland.

“However, I was not prepared to have buzzards active predatory behaviours so clearly demonstrated right under my nose. It would be a great shame if we could not find a way to reduce the very clear predation pressure from this now ubiquitous predator.”

Buzzard numbers have been growing steadily since the 1980s and numbers in Scotland are now at record levels.

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land and Estates, said: “While previous reports of such predation have been brushed off by those who do not like the reality of what is happening in the countryside, this video provides the sad but clear and conclusive evidence of the serious impact that this growing population of buzzards is now having.

“The time has surely come for common sense to prevail and for measures to be introduced to be able to properly protect these wild birds and other species that we value so highly. The need to strike a proper balance is now well overdue.”

Gamekeeper left buzzard to starve in Glenlyon crow trap

A gamekeeper left a buzzard to starve to death after it was caught in a trap used legally for trapping crows.

A buzzard became trapped in a licensed cage and was unable to escape

Jonathan Graham, 30, of Foss, was supposed to have dismantled the trap on the Glenlyon Estate, near Pitlochry, Perth Sheriff Court heard.

After the buzzard got trapped, Graham did not open the cage door wide enough to allow the bird to escape.

He admitted to failing to inspect the trap every 24 hours as he was obliged to do, leading to the bird’s death.

Graham was banned from using trap cages for five years and fined £450.

RSPB Scotland has welcomed the conviction.

When the buzzard became trapped, Graham used a bucket to keep the cage door ajar rather than remove it completely as he should have done, the court heard.

Decomposing remains

Fiscal depute Shona McJannett told the court that gamekeepers could use the licensed cages, but had to carry out checks on them every 24 hours at least.

She said: “In Scotland, all wild birds enjoy a high degree of protection from the law.

“It is vital the cages are checked because they don’t discriminate the birds within them.”

Tayside Police were called to the estate by a walker and found the decomposing remains of a buzzard within the cage on 27 February last year.

Solicitor David McKie, defending, said Graham should have removed the cage door.

He said a fine would mean his client would be “rendered almost unemployable” as a gamekeeper because he would not be able to operate a licence to control wild birds.

Sheriff Robert McCreadie said case involved “a dereliction of the duty owed to all wild birds”.

Firth of Forth divers rescued by RAF search helicopter

A search and rescue helicopter was drafted in from RAF Boulmer in Northumberland

RAF search and rescue helicopter A search and rescue helicopter was drafted in from RAF Boulmer in Northumberland

Two divers have been taken to hospital after being rescued by a search party in the Firth of Forth.

Forth coastguard was called at about 17:30 BST by a diving group who feared the two men had failed to resurface.

A helicopter from RAF Boulmer in Northumberland and four lifeboats from Dunbar, Anstruther and North Berwick went to the scene.

The two divers were taken to North Berwick by helicopter and transferred to hospital by ambulance.

The coastguard said because of the weather conditions it would have been difficult for the group to have spotted the men if they had resurfaced in a different location from their fellow divers.

A coastguard spokesman said:“The area the divers were lost in was so vast that we needed as many people searching as possible.

“Thankfully the men were spotted by a Dunbar lifeboat around 6.20pm and a paramedic dropped down from RAF Boulmer to treat them.

“It was decided that the men did not need immediate hospital treatment so they were transported to North Berwick by helicopter and were met by an ambulance, rather than flying directly to hospital.”

The group had been diving near Bass Rock in the Forth.

Bond Trailer Could Give Tourism A Bonny Boost


James Bond could be set to boost Scottish tourism after a highland glen featured in the first trailer for the new film SKYFALL.

Daniel Craig, who plays 007, and Dame Judi Dench, who returns as boss M, can be seen looking into Glen Etive while standing next to an Aston Martin DB5.

Nearby Dalness Lodge, not seen in the clip, was owned by the family of Bond’s creator Ian Flemming and is thought to feature as a safe house in the movie.

The production also shot scenes near the White Corries in Glencoe. Scotland has been used as a location for two previous Bond films, The Spy Who Loved Me and The World Is Not Enough.

Skyfall, the 23rd official Bond film, will be released in cinemas in October.

Skyfall – Official Trailer