A fishery owner has admitted his shock over being “hung, drawn and quartered” in a barrage of online criticism after announcing plans for new rules around the re-opening of his loch near Dundee.
David Duff posted proposals for the re-opening of Ledyatt Loch – hopefully on Monday next week – in what he said was intended to be an indicator of the social distancing measures which would have to be put in place to operate safely.
He has stressed there will be no fishing at the Sidlaws venue until Covid-19 restrictions are officially lifted but the businessman said he felt unfairly “vilified” in the social media backlash.
The posting on the popular fishery’s Facebook site has drawn hundreds of comments, branding him irresponsible and suggesting anglers could be fined for driving to the loch.
New rules will include a 50% cut in rod numbers, strict payment and distancing controls, and a one-way system around the loch.
“I had been told that things were moving fast and was optimistic that by May 4 the restrictions might be lifted enough to allow us to resume on a restricted basis, and all I was trying to do was set out the rules which would apply,” he said.
“What I wanted to do was open the conversation because this situation is not going to go away in five minutes – social distancing is something that is going to be around fisheries for a very long time.
“I hoped it would be next week, but if we are not allowed to open then we simply won’t be doing it.
“I would never, ever, risk my business or the friends who come to fish here.
“Unfortunately, there has been a very quick knee-jerk reaction to what were my good intentions and I have been pretty much hung, drawn and quartered on social media.
“I’m disappointed by that, but I just hope people will realise what I was trying to do for when we re-open.”
The attraction employs five people, all of whom have been laid off since the start of the outbreak.
Mr Duff has already cancelled an order for stock fish and said his major supplier had been forced to cull tens of thousands of trout as a result of the pandemic.
He added: “If fisheries are forced to close because of this situation then the whole industry in Scotland is weakened substantially and it would be hugely damaging.
“Ledyatt is very popular, it brings in up to 1,000 visitor beds to the Dundee area each year as well as the many others who come to fish here.
“We are not getting any help at all, and I perhaps wish the wider industry had pulled together just a little more and realised that social distancing and new rules are something which we all have to plan for.”