A fishery has been forced to pay for expensive CCTV equipment to protect its stock from poachers taking advantage of lockdown.
Kinross Trout Fishery management say they are targeted by the odd poacher on winter nights but have now been forced to install cameras to monitor the loch 24 hours a day.
With no paying anglers around the loch to scare off hungry cormorants, director Garry Hunter’s fish stock is already being depleted and illegal anglers are also raiding the £70,000 worth of stock swimming in the loch.
The former policeman said: “If people were dying for food, I wouldn’t mind but the poachers are just using this as an opportunity.”
52-year-old Garry says he made the call to shut up shop the day before lockdown was enforced but is now paying the price.
“Last week, we decided that the risk was low but the severity was a potential fatality, so we decided to close. Lockdown was announced the next day.”
“We had signs of poachers over the winter. We’ve had to invest in wildlife cameras which send photos to my phone every time the beams are crossed. I shouldn’t have to be spending £800 to watch my stock.”
Garry is worried because his business is not eligible for non-domestic rates relief and he and his two part-time employees will rely on the 80% salary payments from Westminster.
However, after setting up the business from his savings in May 2018, Garry is anxious his decision not to take a wage for the first five months could leave him struggling.
He says the last thing he needs is to waste time and money on dealing with unwanted visitors, such as poachers and dog walkers breaking into the grounds around the loch for some exercise.
“We’ve had a horrendous winter with storms so we’ve had fewer anglers. The start of the season was our chance to claw things back.
“We’ve had dog walkers in and other people climbing the fences to go for a stroll. Every time that happens, I have to drive half an hour down to sanitise the fences and padlocks.
“Folk are climbing over my fences, potentially leaving or receiving the virus and risking their health and mine.
“Dog walkers also leaving dog waste on my land causing work I could do without. This is private land not a public park. I’d rather spend that fuel money on putting food on the table.”
“We have 10 cameras on the water all the time and I will be informing the police if it continues.”