Anglers are calling for measures to reel in salmon netters on Scotland's rivers, amid claims that the activity may hit fish numbers.

The body that represents angling interests on Scotland's salmon rivers wants a change in the law to give its members first refusal on any salmon netting rights that come on the market.

The Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) says the need for this new provision is highlighted by the acquisition by a Scottish netting company of several dormant or lightly fished netting stations.

The ASFB claims mixed-stocks coastal netting stations indiscriminately catch any salmon passing by, regardless of where they are heading or the strength of the population in their home rivers. It argues such stations are non-selective, and make management of river stocks almost impossible.

The ASFB wants the right of pre-emption in favour of local district salmon fishery boards included in the coming Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill at Holyrood.

Dr Alan Wells, policy and planning director for ASFB, said: "Any increase in coastal salmon netting constitutes a significant threat to sound salmon management."

The family-run Usan Fisheries Ltd, near Montrose, is one of Scotland's few remaining salmon netters, and is behind two purchases the ASFB highlights in Caithness and Aberdeenshire.

Usan director George Pullar criticised what he called "the blatant attempt by the angling lobby to further persecute legitimate salmon-netting operators".

"We would suggest the ASFB rationale for seeking pre-emption rights has little to do with conservation and everything to do with increasing the capital value of their rod fisheries."