A NEW initiative has been launched to raise awareness of the potential impact of wildlife crime on the North-east’s waterways.
It comes with the salmon fishing season on local rivers getting under way over the coming weeks.
The move will see river crime warning and information boards that have been developed by Grampian Police Wildlife Crime Unit, distributed to nine of the region’s major salmon fishing rivers by water bailiffs.
Force Wildlife Crime officer, PC Gavin Lindsay said: “Grampian’s salmon rivers are a huge asset to the region, contributing millions to the economy and providing important habitat for a variety of wildlife. However river crime – in particular, the poaching of salmon - can have both a serious environmental and economic affect on the river and wider community.
“River crime can take a variety of formats; from individuals poaching salmon using rod and line, to organised groups, who often travel from out with the Grampian area to net the river, resulting in the loss of significant numbers of fish.
“Fresh water pearl mussels, can also be a target for criminals.
“These molluscs survive in only a handful of Grampian’s rivers, and -as the name suggests- can occasionally contain a pearl.
“Illegal fishing for pearls has brought the fresh water pearl mussel to the brink of extinction, with Scotland being the global stronghold for the species.”
The operation is a joint initiative between Grampian Police’s Wildlife Crime Unit and River Bailiffs to target the criminals exploiting the North-east’s rivers.
The operation has been running for seven years in Grampian, with some notable success in the disruption of poaching activity and enforcement of legislation.
PC Lindsay continued: “One key to the success of Operation Salmo is the information sharing between water bailiffs and police however we also need to get the public more involved by reporting any crimes or suspicious activity to the police as soon as possible. “
“More and more people are accessing rivers for fishing, water sports and riverside walks yet are often unsure whether to report a suspected crime.
“These river crime boards will encourage people not only to report, but to provide all the details the police and Water Bailiffs require to carry out their enquiries as efficiently as possible.”
The river crime boards will encourage people to report suspicious activity to Grampian Police by contacting them on 0845 600 5700.