Police Scotland are working with conservation agencies and fishery groups in the Western Isles, to investigate the death of a porpoise and salmon caused by an illegally-set net off the west coast of the Isle of Lewis.
The huge gill net, which was discovered after a tip-off from a concerned member of the public, was 125 metres long and 4 metres wide, made of green monofilament nylon.
Upon lifting the net, local estate staff discovered not only a dead salmon caught in it, but also a porpoise that had become entangled.
Police Scotland Wildlife Crime Officer, based in Benbecula, PC Adrian Kay said:
“It is clear that this porpoise, an intelligent animal, would have suffered a slow, painful death caught in this net. The poachers who set this net do not appear to have checked it regularly, allowing this salmon and porpoise to die trapped within it.
“The net was attached to a number of floats, one of which was white and was marked ‘L1 LADY’. We urge anyone with any information about this crime, to get in touch”.
Scottish Natural Heritage’s Area Manager in the Western Isles, David Maclennan added:
“This latest incident highlights the need for people to be vigilant about the use of illegal salmon nets in the area and to report cases to the authorities.
“As well as being illegal, this form of salmon netting poses a major threat to porpoises, dolphins, and basking sharks, which often feed in the main netting areas. We are committed to working with Fishery Boards and the Police to stamp out the practice.
“Cetacean species – dolphins and porpoises - are a major wildlife draw for Scotland and salmon are worth millions to the Scottish economy. We owe it to all marine species to protect them from such indiscriminate practices.”
Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org, where no personal details are taken, information is not traced and you will not go to court.