SANA Response to SNH over the Loch Leven situation. (Stocking of the loch will cease at the end of this season due to cormorant related losses. The fishery will operate on a much-reduced basis.)


The fact that sea going Cormorants inhabit Loch Leven in large numbers and cause great damage to fish stocks is undeniable. But Scottish Natural Heritage attempts to dismiss this and produces cormorant population figures which, in the view of ANOTHER Government agency, are grossly under-stated.


We are looking at the loss of what was a renowned world class fishery and, perhaps, the possible extinction of its specific type of brown trout. Along with many other people we feel SNH’s track record over native fish species has been abysmal…it only seems to be interested in animals and birds.


It is no wonder SNH has been dubbed “the political wing of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.”


A 2005 report of a recent survey by Fisheries Research Services – a government agency- said that SNH appeared to have little interest in the overall status of the Loch Leven Brown Trout. The FRS report shows that the figures quoted by SNH of an average of 50 – 100 resident cormorants are wrong and, in all probability, refer to a period between 1983 and 1987. It adds that since 1988, “cormorant numbers have increased substantially” and, over the winter months, anywhere between 400 and 700 cormorants have been counted on the Loch.  The estimated daily intake for each bird ranges from 1lb to 2 ½ lb of fish. This equates to an average annual loss of around 80,000lbs of fish, primarily trout.


These birds are a sea-going species of Cormorant. Because of the collapse of their marine habitat, they have moved inland and are feeding on an indigenous freshwater species, which has benefited the local community and its economy for many years.


Recently, Colin Galbraith, a Senior Scientific Official with SNH, declared: “The answer is not to favour one threatened species over another but to work towards restoring the natural balance in our eco-system.”   


Is the Loch Leven situation an example of SNH’s efforts to maintain a level playing field for all species?  We believe there has been biased mismanagement by SNH and they should accept their responsibility for this fiasco.


Other angling interests in the area are concerned about which fishery will be next to suffer a similar fate and it has been suggested that some aspects of the present Freshwater Fisheries Forum Consultation Process are a waste of time, unless the question of predation in fisheries is tackled fairly.  


Five years ago £331,000 from Sport Scotland, Loch Leven Estates and Scottish anglers was invested in the extension and refurbishment of the Loch Leven Centre in order to provide an improved facility for all visitors to the Kinross-shire water.