Secretary’s AGM Report 2024

The Management Committee met three times since the last AGM. Most of the year’s business will be included in the various Sub-committee Convenors reports. It was another relatively quiet year albeit with loads of enquiries from visiting anglers. Thankfully I can refer most folk to our excellent website as all they really need to know is there. Online membership was slightly down from the previous year’s high but still pretty good.
We were assured by the OIC that steps would be taken to provide temporary toilet facilities at Brodgar for the 2023 season, so it was with dismay that we learned that our elected members voted against such a provision. Our Harray site was again regularly visited by tourists who left their deposits behind our hut and in the bushes. I even witnessed someone squatting behind our site hut a few weeks ago. Our President and myself met with our MSP Liam McArthur in January to discuss the issue. I was all set to write the Convenor – when he resigned, so I’m ready to ask the new leader to reconsider the Council’s take and put in temporary facilities.
Over the last year or two I’ve noticed quite a sea of change in attitudes towards our sport. There’s plenty of debate on social media and in the magazines regarding catch and release, no kill policies for wild brown trout and there’s even a move to stop angling for salmon as they are now deemed in danger of extinction. We are finding it increasingly harder to get permissions from Marine Scotland to stock lochs with our hatchery fry and at the same time the same government organisation is allowing a rampant increase in salmon farming in Scotland. The Scottish Government’s “green” agenda has been seen to ignore angling interests in its promotion of fancy new hydro electric schemes with new dams, barren rivers and fluctuating loch levels. Thankfully we don’t have that here but you never know what’s next round the corner.  
There’s no doubt we are not being taken as seriously as we once were. It seems harder to get support for what we do from the council and government than it did in past years. I don’t know the answer but we all need to be aware of the situation, keep a close eye and careful how we conduct our business.  
Wishing you all tight lines for the season ahead.
 Malcolm Russell – OTFA Secretary
 February 2024