Haaf netting on the Annan is to be made a Historic Fishery the First Minister announced last night in a visit to the town.
Nicola Sturgeon revealed she had included the pledge in the SNP’s election manifesto as a result of campaigning by Joan McAlpine MSP
The First Minister was speaking at a packed public meeting in The Victoria Halls Annan to support Ms McAlpine’s campaign to win Dumfriesshire for the SNP on 5 May Scottish Parliament election.
Annan’s special place on page 26 of the manifesto was revealed in response to a plea by George Willacy OBE, a retired haaf netter.
The pledge says:
“We will designate the haaf net fishing on the River Annan as a historic fishery.”
Ms Sturgeon told the local audience:
“Joan McAlpine has campaigned tirelessly on this matter and as a result of her efforts this commitment is in the manifesto. It’s a very good example of how she stands up for her constituents.”
Ms Sturgeon then gave Mr Willacy her personal signed copy of the manifesto which she launched earlier in the day before the world’s media in Edinburgh.
Ms McAlpine added:
“This is also a great victory for the Royal Burgh of Annan Fishermen’s Association. The designation of “historic fishery” is new and will give haaf netting a future beyond the temporary reprieve it won earlier this year when ministers agreed to allow the limited taking of salmon in return for scientific co-operation.
Ms McAlpine submitted a parliamentary motion defending haaf netting when its survival was threatened by conservation measures last year. She wrote to ministers requesting it be made a heritage fishery.
She explained: “Haaf netting has existed since Viking times and is unique. It is integral to the cultural identity of Annan. Of course we should protect wild salmon but remember human ecology matters too.”