With the wildfowling season starting on the 1st September, a brief update on the situation on Findhorn Bay, in Morayshire, may be helpful to those planning to shoot there either as a local or a visiting wildfowler.

Over the past year, there have been a number of meetings and negotiations relating to the trial introduction of a voluntary wildfowling permit system. The aims of this voluntary system were to:

• Protect the long-term future of sustainable wildfowling and conservation at this popular site.
• Manage the numbers of visiting wildfowlers to ensure that all who shot on the Bay had an enjoyable experience.
• Address the concerns of some local residents with respect to disturbance.
• Address the problems that arose last season when many “flights” were disrupted by local residents opposed to wildfowling.

BASC, as one of the wildfowling interests, had reservations over some of the proposed restrictions and negotiated with others to modify some of these before accepting that a voluntary permit system should be trialled in 2017/18. Lessons learned over this coming season will hopefully inform the development of any future byelaw controlled permit system. By-law controlled wildfowling takes place at many other iconic sites in Scotland, such as Montrose Basin, the Eden Estuary, Caerlaverock and Wigtown Bay.

Over the past three months, other wildfowling interests have rejected the voluntary permit system, which is unlikely to succeed without the support of all wildfowling interests.

Legitimate concerns were raised by some over the voluntary restrictions, including no shooting on Mondays and no shooting over one part of the reserve after the end of November. Other concerns were raised over the security of the web site used to accept permit applications and over those who would administer the system. BASC has been assured that no personal data will be held on the LNR website and that the administrators are not ‘antis’.

BASC asks that all members considering shooting on Findhorn Bay this coming season look at the LNR website (http://fblnr.org/wildfowling/) and note the proposed voluntary restrictions associated with the permit system. The bag limit of five birds per flight, and the novel restriction of 15 cartridges per flight, appear to have the support of most wildfowlers. The introduction of a bag recording system (universally adopted by all other wildfowling permit systems in Scotland) will be another progressive step.

We ask all BASC members to ensure that their wildfowling follows the provisions of the BASC Wildfowling Code of Practice (http://basc.org.uk/cop/wildfowling/) – one of the underlying principles of the voluntary permit system – and, in particular, the points relating to respect for local residents. We also ask that you do all that you can to avoid confrontation with those opposed to wildfowling.

BASC will continue to work with other wildfowling interests, the LNR Management Committee, Moray Council, SNH and Scottish government to protect sustainable wildfowling on this important, and much loved, estuary.

Colin Shedden
28th August 2017

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