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Rafters in river deal with anglers

Rafters have agreed to stay off a river for more than two days a week during the salmon season after reaching a com-promise deal with fishermen.

STORMY WATERS: The popularity of rafting has brought anglers and rafters into conflict. Picture: www.rafting.co.u,
STORMY WATERS: The popularity of rafting has brought anglers and rafters into conflict. Picture: www.rafting.co.u,

A court was told yesterday a long-running feud between rafters and fishermen on the River Tay had been brought to an end after an 11th-hour deal was agreed out of court.

A full legal hearing on the dispute scheduled for next week has now been cancelled.

The rafting companies have agreed not to take their craft, accused of making fishing virtually impossible, on to the water on Mondays and Tuesdays during the salmon season.

They will also be prohibited from going on to the water until 1.30pm on Wednesdays (2.30pm during summer time), but will then be free to operate daily until Sunday evening.

They will be allowed to operate seven days a week during the close season, which runs from the end of October until January 15.

Solicitor Kevin Lancaster represented all parties when he appeared at Perth Sheriff Court yesterday to confirm a deal had been agreed.

The dispute between the two sides has gone on for several years and escalated earlier this year when the anglers started legal action to ban the "disruptive" rafters.

Sheriff Michael Fletcher initially agreed the rafters spoiled the fishing beat owners' ability to enjoy salmon fishing on a stretch of water from Aberfeldy in Highland Perthshire.

He outlawed the use of rafts and inflatable craft because they posed "an unreasonable interference with the rights of anglers."

In seeking a ruling against Perth and Kinross Council, a group of owners and the 150-member Aberfeldy Angling Club had said: "There has long been some use of the river by canoeists and kayakers; unlike rafters, such users retain control of their vessels and are generally respectful of the rights of others."

They said that in 1994 an agreement was reached with the rafting companies to allow limited use of the river and this continued for a decade.

However, the number of rafts increased and, according to the court papers "certain rafting companies took the view their use should be unrestricted."

A breakdown in the agreement followed and the beat owners said they had been left with no option but to go to court to protect their century-old fishing rights.

The sheriff's decision to impose a ban was overturned when it was ruled the rafting companies had not been given due notice of the legal action.

Discussions have been taking place since January, leading to yesterday's agreement.

Representatives of both sides of the dispute declined to comment on the deal yesterday.

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