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WILDFOWLERS’ JOINT STATEMENT ON FINDHORN FIASCO

This is a joint statement from Forres, Nairn & District Wildfowling Association, Findhorn Wildfowling & Conservation Association, Ardersier & District Wildfowling Club and the Scottish Association for Country Sports (SACS). These comprise the entirety of local Findhorn wildfowling bodies, supported by SACS.

WILDFOWLERS’ JOINT STATEMENT ON FINDHORN FIASCO

Moray Council has issued a statement offering its support for a wildfowling permit scheme operated by Findhorn Local Nature Reserve. All local wildfowling groups are disappointed with Moray Council's suport for a scheme, which was brought in without the engagement with or backing of any of the local wildfowling groups.

Local wildfowlers are united in their opposition to this scheme on the following grounds:

1. After a controversial anti-shooting petition was launched, SACS and wildfowlers nationwide supported Findhorn Bay wildfowlers to pull together a strong counter-petition. Subsequent to that, broad discussions resulted in a number of proposals and suggestions.

2. On 2nd August, a voluntary permit scheme was launched without the support of any of the relevant wildfowling groups and based on terms all local wildfowling groups had previously rejected.

3. It is clear that, following our rejection of these unworkable terms, wildfowlers were deliberately excluded from further discussions on a matter where ours is the principal community impacted. This is unacceptable.

4. Thus, wildfowlers’ robust and fair objections to the unreasonable terms of a voluntary permit scheme have been ignored and shooting interests have been deliberately bypassed in favour of anti-shooting elements.

5. Wildfowlers were not even given the courtesy of being informed prior to launch that a permit scheme was going live.

6. The voluntary permit scheme is being operated by the LNR, whose committee comprises a number of antis, including the lead anti-shooting activist and the LNR Secretary who has been an ‘admin’ on a secret local anti-shooting Facebook page.

7. Further, Moray Council and the LNR are asking shooters to apply for voluntary permits on the unsecured LNR website by providing security-sensitive data, including their Shotgun Certificate and vehicle details, with no formal safeguards in place in regard to website security, access to and handling of that data and despite known anti-shooting activists being on the committee.

8. Police Scotland have advised an LNR committee member that this action may be in breach of data protection legislation.

9. All local wildfowling groups are disappointed, despite substantive concerns being raised, that Moray Council, the LNR and others continue to support the unworkable permit terms despite unanimous local wildfowlers' rejection.

10. In a process where the anti-shooting petitioners and pro-shooting counter petitioners were supposed to work together to a workable resolution, it is extraordinary that the local and visiting wildfowling community has been deliberately circumvented and side-lined. It is insupportable that in a modern Scotland, a community impacted by substantive change is not effectively consulted and engaged with.

All local wildfowling groups, supported by SACS, advise wildfowlers shooting on Findhorn Bay to NOT apply for the voluntary permits and to not enter their personal information on the LNR website. This was always a voluntary scheme - initially suggested by wildfowlers themselves – but the wildfowling community has been alienated from this process and without our backing this scheme cannot work.

Wildfowlers should follow best practice at all times and act in a manner that will not bring our community into disrepute; keep it calm, responsible and considerate.

Collectively, we will continue to fight to have our community voice heard and will work together to protect wildfowling as an ancient and venerated cultural activity. We will keep you abreast of any updates.

For their information, please share widely amongst the wildfowling community.

On behalf of:
FNDWA, FWCA, ADWC, SACS