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West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co. - Letter to Sir Murdoch MacDonald MP regarding depth charges

This letter was one of many James Banks wrote regarding the practice of depth-charging in the Sound of Raasay - the strait between the Island of Raasay and the mainland. Banks's complaint was that the depth-charges would affect the fish stocks, particularly the sea salmon fishing off the coast of Skye and Raasay. He states that during the war the fish stocks decreased because of the depth-charging that occurred then but stocks were showing signs of improving since the war had ended. Despite the argument s, however, the testing continued.


This letter was written to Sir Murdoch MacDonald, the Liberal Party MP for this area. He was first elected in 1922 to the Liberal party and when he retired in 1950, aged 83, he was oldest member of the House of Commons. MacDonald's reply to this letter suggested various amendments Banks could make to the letter and once he had made these, MacDonald offered to forward it to the Admiralty for further consideration. Banks did follow this advice and sent an amended letter but to no avail.


Other correspondence shows that James Banks also contacted Col A. Gomme-Duncan, the Member of Parliament for Banks's home town of Perth. He also had correspondence with the previous owner of the sea salmon fishing, Robert Powrie. He ran a salmon fishing business from Gairloch which was similarly affected. Powrie was of the opinion that the Admiralty would press ahead with the practice regardless and were unlikely to listen to any complaints. His only suggestion was to try to gather evidence of harm to the inshore fishing, although he admitted this would be difficult.


West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd
In 1944 James Banks & Sons, Perth bought the sea salmon fishing lease for the Kilmuir Estates, Skye from A Powrie & Co, and formed the West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd to operate the lease. The company continued until 1962 when it was sold to Kenneth Matheson, Portree.

When Banks and Sons took over the lease there were fishing stations at Lealt, Rigg (Borreraig), Staffin, Portree, Camustianavaig, Balmeanach and Brochel Castle (on Raasay). In 1956, Balmeanach and Camustianavaig merged to become the Braes station, with three men employed, while the others usually had four-man crews. The company employed about 28 men each year with jobs being offered to the same men each season before new workers were hired.

The season began late April/early May and ran through to the end of August. Several men were also employed during the winter months to take ice down from the dam at Sluggans for storage at the ice house at Portree harbour. Each crew member would receive a contract with information on wages, proposed bonus scheme and work hours and were provided with oilskins and rubber boots.

The catch was divided into salmon, grilse and trout, with grilse numbers being the highest. The total annual catch was approximately 3000 fish in the late 1940s and early 1950s. A record high of nearly 10,000 fish were caught in 1957.


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West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co. - Letter to Sir Murdoch MacDonald MP regarding depth charges

1940s

fishing industry; commercial fishing; salmon fishing; trout fishing; net fishing; Royal Navy; Admiralty; war; depth charges; sensor testing

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

David Banks: West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd (documents)

This letter was one of many James Banks wrote regarding the practice of depth-charging in the Sound of Raasay - the strait between the Island of Raasay and the mainland. Banks's complaint was that the depth-charges would affect the fish stocks, particularly the sea salmon fishing off the coast of Skye and Raasay. He states that during the war the fish stocks decreased because of the depth-charging that occurred then but stocks were showing signs of improving since the war had ended. Despite the argument s, however, the testing continued. <br /> <br /> <br /> This letter was written to Sir Murdoch MacDonald, the Liberal Party MP for this area. He was first elected in 1922 to the Liberal party and when he retired in 1950, aged 83, he was oldest member of the House of Commons. MacDonald's reply to this letter suggested various amendments Banks could make to the letter and once he had made these, MacDonald offered to forward it to the Admiralty for further consideration. Banks did follow this advice and sent an amended letter but to no avail.<br /> <br /> <br /> Other correspondence shows that James Banks also contacted Col A. Gomme-Duncan, the Member of Parliament for Banks's home town of Perth. He also had correspondence with the previous owner of the sea salmon fishing, Robert Powrie. He ran a salmon fishing business from Gairloch which was similarly affected. Powrie was of the opinion that the Admiralty would press ahead with the practice regardless and were unlikely to listen to any complaints. His only suggestion was to try to gather evidence of harm to the inshore fishing, although he admitted this would be difficult.<br /> <br /> <br /> <b>West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd</b><br /> In 1944 James Banks & Sons, Perth bought the sea salmon fishing lease for the Kilmuir Estates, Skye from A Powrie & Co, and formed the West Highland Salmon Fisheries Co Ltd to operate the lease. The company continued until 1962 when it was sold to Kenneth Matheson, Portree. <br /> <br /> When Banks and Sons took over the lease there were fishing stations at Lealt, Rigg (Borreraig), Staffin, Portree, Camustianavaig, Balmeanach and Brochel Castle (on Raasay). In 1956, Balmeanach and Camustianavaig merged to become the Braes station, with three men employed, while the others usually had four-man crews. The company employed about 28 men each year with jobs being offered to the same men each season before new workers were hired. <br /> <br /> The season began late April/early May and ran through to the end of August. Several men were also employed during the winter months to take ice down from the dam at Sluggans for storage at the ice house at Portree harbour. Each crew member would receive a contract with information on wages, proposed bonus scheme and work hours and were provided with oilskins and rubber boots. <br /> <br /> The catch was divided into salmon, grilse and trout, with grilse numbers being the highest. The total annual catch was approximately 3000 fish in the late 1940s and early 1950s. A record high of nearly 10,000 fish were caught in 1957. <br /> <br /> <br /> This image may be available to purchase.<br /> For further information about purchasing and prices please email<br /> <a href="mailto: skyeandlochalsh.archives@highlifehighland.com ">Skye and Lochalsh Archives</a>