Fishermen causing blues

Loch Lomond NNR

The Loch Lomond reserve is a stunning place: a beautiful landscape and full of wildlife. Some of this wildlife is in the shape of fish and this draws fishermen to the place. Lots of fishermen come to the reserve, fish, enjoy the site, go home and leave no sign of their presence. But, unfortunately, there are a few who leave all of their rubbish strewn across the banks of the river. This is what I saw on a recent visit.

Trees cut and burnt on the river bank with rubbish left.

More piles of rubbish

This is just 1 sack full of rubbish I picked up to put into the recycling.

There is no doubt the rubbish is left primarily by fishermen.

The problem is more than just making the place look untidy. Wildlife can get tangled in plastic.  There are plenty of otters on the river, no pictures of them here but the signs are there – lots of otter poo.

But it is the unseen problem that is worse. Lots of this plastic gradually breaks down and crumbles to tiny pieces. These can get ingested by freshwater invertebrates living in the wetlands. See report here showing that plastics have been found in 50% of freshwater invertebrates in Wales. When, as part of the food web these invertebrates get eaten and absorbed by higher vertebrates such as fish and birds then they can accumulate and cause health problems in these vertebrates. So ironically littering fishermen are causing long-term damage to the fish stocks they come to the site for.
After carrying a sackful of litter for some distance I certainly wasn’t in the best of moods last week. If we don’t want to see plastic pollution building up in the wildlife of this reserve then something has to change. SNH doesn’t have the staff to patrol the river on a daily basis. So I wonder if maybe all of the good fishermen and fishing associations have to take on more responsibility to self-police the fishing of these rivers that they love to fish, and proactively discourage the littering behaviour of the fisherman that abuse these beautiful places?

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